THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.
I. IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH?
A. This is a question that has been asked by man from the beginning.
1. In one of the oldest books of literature, the book of Job, at the news of the death of his ten children in a tragic accident, Job asked the question, "If a man dies, will he live again?"
2. There was no definite, definitive answer given to Job, just a hope. "I know that my redeemer liveth, and shall stand in the last days upon the earth, and though the worms destroy this body, in the flesh, I shall see God."
B. There really is not much teaching on the subject in the Old Testament.
1. Daniel wrote, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt."
2. David in Psalm 22
declared, "And they that go down in the dust shall bow before Him."
3. In Psalm 23
David spoke of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, not in the valley. At the end of the psalm he declared, "And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
4. In Psalm 49
David said, "God shall redeem my soul from the power of the grave."
Thy dead [men] shall live, [together with] my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew [is as] the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
5. Not much upon which to base a doctrine of resurrection.
C. The age of philosophy was born and the greatest minds of men were engaged in a search for meaning to life, and the possibility of life after death. And the philosophers found no adequate answers for man.
D. It took the coming of Jesus to bring us insight and knowledge of the resurrection.
1. The age of philosophy was dying when the story before us took place.
2. Two sisters Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany with their brother Lazarus who was dying. They believed in Jesus and had a close relationship with Him. So the sisters sent Jesus an urgent message to come quickly for his friend Lazarus was very sick.
a. We know from the story how that Jesus did not immediately respond to their appeal but remained there at the Jordan a couple of days before beginning the two-day journey to Bethany.
b. By the time Jesus finally arrived, His friend was dead and had been buried four days earlier.
c. The mourners were with the sisters in their home when word came that Jesus was approaching the village coming up from Jericho.
d. Martha left the other mourners and rushed down the road toward Jesus.
e. When she came to Him she said in almost an accusing way, "Lord, if you had only been here, my brother would not have died."
f. It was like saying, "What took you so long?"
g. Where were you when we needed you?
h. She then said, "I know that even now, whatsoever you ask God, He will give it to you." Is she possibly suggesting that Jesus raise him from the dead? It seems so, yet later when Jesus told them to roll the stone away from the entry of Lazarus's tomb, it was Martha who objected declaring that his body would be very smelly by now.
i. Jesus said to her, "Martha, your brother will live again." She answered, "Yes Lord, I know, in the resurrection of the last days."
j. It was here that Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life, He that believeth on Me though he were dead yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die, believest thou this?"
3. Here is a straightforward, clear answer to the question of life after death.
4. There are two scriptural definitions for death:
a. The separation of a man's consciousness from his body. In the scripture it says, "And he gave up the ghost."
b. The separation of a man's consciousness from God.
c. Obviously Jesus was referring to the second definition. If you live and believe in Him you will never be separated from God.
5. This is a radical claim made by Jesus, one that demands a decision. You either believe it or not.
a. Jesus asked Martha, "Do you believe this?"
b. The question is, "Do you believe that?"
c. Martha answered in the affirmative. "Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God."
6. It is now up to Jesus to prove the claim, so he went to the grave of Lazarus and commanded that the stone be rolled away from the entrance to the cave.
7. He then called Lazarus to come out.
8. What a dramatic moment, if nothing happens, then Jesus is a fraud. He has made fraudulent claims, He deceived the people. Wait a minute, don't leave yet, here comes Lazarus hopping out still bound in the grave clothes.
9. This means that you must seriously consider the claims of Jesus.
II. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT LIFE AFTER DEATH?
A. It teaches that the real you is not your body, but your spirit.
1. That your body is just a tent in which your spirit lives.
2. Your body is the medium by which your spirit expresses you.
3. Your body is like a well-designed machine that has certain needs to keep it functioning properly. Much like the engine in your car that needs the oxygen, the fuel, the cooling system and the exhaust to keep it running.
a. It needs oxygen to fuel the cells. The whole marvelous design of the lungs and the heart, and the blood distribution system, bringing the oxygen to all the cells.
b. It needs moisture to keep it cool because the cells are burning up so much energy.
c. It needs food to nourish the cells so the design of the mouth, teeth, stomach and all the acids and chemicals to dissolve the food into the basic chemicals to be carried into the body to feed the cells.
d. It needs to dispose of the waste material, so the marvelous design of the bowels and bladder.
e. It needs sex to perpetuate the human race.
f. These needs all make their demand on us in the form of drives.
4. Man is more than just a machine, he is a spirit. He has a consciousness, the capacity to think and to know, to analyze and to choose.
a. The lower side of man's nature is the body, the mechanics of the body, the various body drives.
b. The higher side of man's nature is the spirit. The capacity to know and understand and to worship the one who created the body with all of its marvelous capacities.
c. Man can choose to live after the lower or higher side of his nature. He can live after the flesh or after the spirit.
d. To live after the flesh is spiritual death, the separation of his consciousness from God.
e. To do this is to live life on a purely mechanical level. You go through the motions, but you actually abide in death. Your mind is controlled by the body needs, and thinks basically on the things of the flesh which are temporal and will perish. The result is worry, anxiety, lust, strife, and envy.
f. To live after the spirit is to live in fellowship with God the Creator, and your mind is on Him and the things that are eternal. The result is life, joy and peace.
5. To the one that lives and believes in Jesus Christ, there is life after death. It is eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." You really do not die, but only move out of this body, into a new body that Jesus has prepared for you. "In My Father's house are many mansions, I am going to prepare a place for you."
6. For those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, there is death after death.
Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.