The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

“If a man dies, will he live again?”

In the book of Job the question is asked, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14). Asking the question is easy, but the difficult part is finding someone to answer the question with authority and experience. Death is the great equalizer. Everyone dies: men and women, rich, poor, educated and uneducated, everyone.

People often fear death. “The ancient philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) recognized that the fear of death was present in everybody and therefore he sought a way to remove that fear. Epicurus taught that humanity not need fear death because human beings are nothing more than a composition of atoms which at death simply disperse and that is the end of things. Epicurus didn’t believe there were any gods to fear or anything to face once a person breathed their last. His teaching of maximum pleasure in this life with minimum pain and suffering dictated that everything ends when death occurred.” The Epicureans believed, “When the dust has soaked up a person’s blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection.” Maybe that’s the way you look at death. There’s an alternative for you to consider. 

Despite this and other philosophies that deny death, there is still great fear and uncertainty about death. Again in Job is says death is the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). In the movie the Bucket List, a movie about coming to grips with death, one of the dying characters state, “WE all want to go on forever, don’t we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall. Yet nobody knows what’s on the other side. That’s why we fear death.”

There is One Person who has gone to that wall, passed to the others side and has returned to tell us what to expect. That Person is Jesus Christ. No credible scholar doubts that Jesus was an actual historical figure. Scholars also accept Jesus performed miracles. There is universal agreement Jesus was crucified and died. But it is the resurrection that makes Jesus the expert Who can answer our question about death and if there is an afterlife.

 Jesus tells us three things about life after death:

1.      Jesus tells us there is life (eternal life) after death.

2.      Jesus tells us that when a person dies there are two possible eternal destinies a person can experience; one negative; one positive; one to be avoided at all costs; one to be sought at all cost.

3.      Jesus tells us there is a way to assure and ensure that we experience a positive eternal destiny.

First, that Jesus taught there was existence after death is seen in the following verses. The Sadducees denied the resurrection but Jesus said to them:

Mark 12:26-27 - But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

Jesus states those died in the past still have an existence.

Jesus comforted His disciples with the words:

 John 14:1-4 -  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Secondly, Jesus taught there were two eternal destinies. Jesus said:

 Jesus, in His account of a beggar named Lazarus and the rich man who died stated:

Luke 16:22-23 -  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

He speaks again of two eternal destines when He states:

Matthew 25:46 - And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

John 5:25-29 - Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

In Hebrews it states:

Hebrews 9:27 - And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

So it’s pretty clear from the expert on life after death that there is life after death and that that existence poses two possible destinies; one very bad; one very good.

Finally, is it possible to determine our eternal destiny? Is it possible to avoid hell and secure heaven? The answer to this question is a clear YES! In John chapter 3 Jesus had a very down to earth conversation with a religious Pharisee named Nichodemas. You might think a religious man like Nicodemus would have a confident understanding about the afterlife but he did not. This shows us being religious does not secure heaven in the afterlife.

What did Jesus say was necessary to secure heaven in the afterlife? Listen to what Jesus said to this religious man:

 John 3:1-18 -  There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The person who turns from their sins to God (repents) and receives Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, the afterlife will consist of an eternity spent with God.

But for those who reject this good news of the Gospel, their destiny will be spent in an eternity separated from God’s presence.

Jesus said:

Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

One commentator states:

“G. B. Hardy, a Canadian Scientist, once said, "I have only two questions to ask. One, has anyone ever defeated death? Two, did he make a way for me to do it also?" The answer to both of Hardy’s questions is “yes.” One Person has both defeated death and provided a way for everyone who puts their trust in Him to overcome it as well. Epicurus may have believed that everyone fears death, but the truth is no one who trusts in Christ needs to be afraid. Rejoicing in this fact, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’" (1 Corinthians 15:54–55).[1]

 “If a man die, will he live again?” Our answer is “Yes.” But the next answer is even more important and challenging – “Where will you spend your afterlife?”



[1] – “Is There an Afterlife?”

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