“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
There is more to life that what we see in the here and now.
There is life beyond the grave.
If you were to go back 4,000 years and study the Egyptian culture, they were so concerned about the afterlife that they started worrying before they hit the midlife.
Egyptians built large pyramids adorned them; this was part of preparing for the afterlife.
They knew they would live more in the afterlife than this life, so they spent time preparing in this life for the afterlife.
In first century A.D. a man came to Jesus very upset, not because he was broke, Bible says he was wealthy.
Not because he was a victim, for he was powerful and young.
He had achieved a certain measure of success, he had therefore plenty time to think about life, death and related things.
So he came to Jesus and said,
“Good teacher… what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
In other words,
“I have figured it out, I think I will be in the next life longer that this life, so tell me how do I get there?”
In the middle of the 1,700, a theologian, great preacher, went up and down the eastern states of the USA telling everyone “haven’t you figured it out, you will be in the next life longer that this one, be prepared….”
His name was Jonathan Edwards.
His greatest message was “sinners in the hands of an angry God.”
As he preached people actually felt to fall into hell. Jonathan Edwards brought a great awakening that spread right through to Europe.
Then after that in history, something dark happened.
It was the age of Darwin and other people from the rationalist camp.
They start saying “we are not people with eternity set in our hearts, we are not people made in the image of an eternal God; all we are is the product of an unexplainable explosion that happened millions of years ago, and then comes evolution and we are the next generation of monkeys and apes.
When we die we shall become dust, all there is what you see, touch and feel.
This belief led to what is called “existentialism” the philosophy, the way of life that promotes:
– If it feels good do it
– Live for the day
– Drink for the day
– Eat for the day
– Romance for the day
Nothing else matters because tomorrow we die and cease to exist.
‘Existentialism’ from Germany spread right through Europe and most of the western society.
We thought existentialism was going to be the philosophy of the age forever.
But something interesting happened about 30+ years ago. Maybe history has not yet been written on this period.
About 30+ years ago or so was the birth of the New Age Movement.
People started to have an interest for the spiritual once again.
People stated “There has got to be more than just buying, selling, and dying!”
“There must be a spirit world!”
They were really saying “How do we find it?”
“How do we make sense of it?”
People started writing books about the spirit world, the soul, there is more to us that the physical bodies.
Then they started themes on the angelic world, books and movies on angels.
The 11th highest rated program in America a few years ago was “Touched by an angel” – Martha Williamson, executive producer, born again Christian had a great impact on Hollywood.
Music – the top 40 recordings dealt with them on Paradise, Soul, Spiritual, World, Angels, Life hereafter etc…
So today in the work there is a collision between existentialists and New Age.
What about you, which side do you fall on?
When you ask people “what do you thing about dying?
The average person would say “you die, the candle goes out.”
You ask them, “Where did you get this idea?” They answer, “I read about it, I can’t remember which book.”
We may reply, “Did the author write anything else that is of reputable testimony? What if he changed his mind about the last book?
How can anybody state his or her life on man’s ideas, for eternity?”
Let me give you seven reasons why it is logical to believe that there is life beyond the grave.
Each one may not be conclusive in itself, but when you put them all together they build a good case for the probability of an afterlife.
For centuries man and women have carefully observed the wonders of nature and the cycle of death giving way to the newness of life.
A seed dries up, it looks like dying, you put it into the ground, pour some water and life comes from it.
A caterpillar creates a tomb around himself. It looks finished. But yet it springs up, it explodes into a beautiful colorful butterfly!
Plato, the great philosopher looked at the death and life cycle of nature and concluded it may provide a critical clue for what lies beyond the grave, for humans beings follow the same law of nature, he said.
2. LAW OF PHYSICS
Einstein, and later others argued, that matter may change state, but can never be created or destroyed.
Humans may change state but it is doubtful that they are going to be destroyed all together!
So people look at the law of physics and say it points to life beyond the grave.
Emmanuel Kant., dealt with the subject of ethics. He believed that because you cannot fairly punish all the wrong done here on earth, then there must be an afterlife, if for no other reason, for justice to be served, for all the accounts to be settled.
4. ETERNAL LONGINGS OF THE HEART
Anthropologists have concluded long ago, that in virtually every culture, every people, group and tribe on earth there is a developed sense of an afterlife.
Happy hunting ground concept of the Indians.
– Sensual pleasure concept of the Moslems.
– Reincarnation ideas of eastern religions.
– The Egyptians preparation for death.
Human beings seem to be incapable to believe that this life ends at the grave.
5. NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
Millions of people all over the world claim that they have been so close to death that they had at least a glimpse of the afterlife.
Most of these people were changed for life, and were never the same again!
6. LOOK AT THE BIBLE
It speaks so naturally and compelling about life beyond the grave that the thought of life ending at the grave is absurd, ridiculous contrary to nature, contrary to reason or common sense.
Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15, that if life ends at the grave then,
– There is no justice served.
– Life means nothing.
– There are no absolutes.
– You can’t build a society with no absolutes.
V32, “If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
V33 “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”
V34 “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame.”
7. LOOK AT JESUS
Line up all the people who claim to be religious leaders all throughout time.
Take the biggest one, the most wise, those who wrote and influenced society most during life and history. Analyze what they had to say about life beyond the grave.
If you would do it honestly, I’d bet every single one of us would come to the conclusion that Jesus’ words about the afterlife have,
– The greatest power.
– The greatest ring of authority.
– The greatest sense of wisdom above the rest.
Let me summarize Jesus’ teaching about life beyond the grave:
a) Every single human being will close their eyes on this earth and open them in the next world.
The real you will regain consciousness immediately after the shedding of this body.
‘…and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.’
b) The judgment. All people will stand before God the Creator of Heaven and earth and give account of our lives.
Issue at the judgment is not the works you have done first, but who did you believe!
c) God will separate those who have trusted in Christ as Saviour from those who have not (Matthew 7)
– There will be two camps
– Many will be shocked on that day, because they have not trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
d) Jesus said that those who trusted Christ will be assigned to Heaven forever, those who didn’t will be assigned to Hell forever.
Jesus made Himself unmistakably clear on this topic.
Heaven or Hell, one or the other and no middle ground.
Jesus described Heaven as an eternal community filled with people who loved and worshipped God.
In heaven there will be no more death, sin, sorrow, pain, guilt, shame, racism.
We will be constantly thrilled by the majesty and glory of God. There will be perfect relationships. New bodies, new adventures, new stimulations.
Jesus taught that the highlight of heaven would be an expanded capacity for Christians to do in eternity what they loved doing most here on earth.
Ask as fired up Christian: “What do you really love about living.”
The answer will be: “I like relating to God, to know that He is near throughout my day. I like to know God is with me as I walk through life. I like to be able to pray and know that God listen; I like to be used by God to touch other lives; I love to give Him praise and worship, I like to be with other believers when I do that.”
Jesus said in Heaven we will have “An expanded capacity to do what we are doing down here on earth.”
We will have perfect bodies, glorified abilities, unlimited energies, unlimited time.
We will be with missions of other brothers and sisters from all over the world throughout history. And we will be able to do it forever.
Now, Jesus was very clear also about what Hell was like.
a) Darkness, Matthew 8:12, this is metaphor of no community, no fellowship, solitary confinement from God and people.
b) Fire, torment – not a comfortable place.
c) Gnashing of teeth – metaphor of extreme regrets. “I wish I could turn the clock back.” “I wish I could relive my life over again!”
Jesus taught the highlight of Hell would be that “Unbelievers would receive an expanded capacity to experience there what they spend a lifetime attempting to experience here.”
A life of separation from God.
– push God away
– push Christians away
– push Bible away
– push church away
Then the Holy Spirit speaks to them to draw them to Jesus Christ and they say “get away.”
So God will give them an eternity of what they wanted in life so bad.
Doing it their own way.
So God says, “I will keep my distances.”
God will give unbelievers “and expanded capacity for what they sought in this life.”
Total separation from God and His people forever.
People ask “How can a good God throw good people, just because they do not want to accept Jesus Christ and throw them into hell?”
Give God a little more credit?
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”
Truth about God is that one day “He will give an expanded capacity of what people really longed for, loved down here on earth.”
Christians what are you longing for today?
Non-Christian what do you long for?
What about the good people?
Question: what do these good people think of God?
“For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts… yes, they knew about Him all-right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship Him or even thank Him for all His daily care… claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead.”
Holy Spirit gently and continually draws us to God the Father.
You may be a good person but God, the Holy Spirit is drawing you – are you responding?
Maybe you keep on saying “Get away from me God.”
So, one day God will give you and expanded capacity of what you wanted in life!!
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed…”
Last time I looked at the statistics of the death rate in Canada or anywhere else in the world, it was still hovering around 100%. We are all going to die!
We are going to be in eternity a lot longer than we are going to be in this life – have you figured that out yet?
“… Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“… whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
Pascal, the famous scientist, who among other invention and discoveries worked on the theory of probability.
He was a committed Christian.
He said: “How can anyone lose in life or in eternity if they choose to became a Christian?
If, when he/she dies, there turns out to be no God his faith was still not in vain, he/she has lost nothing – in fact, he/she has lived a happier life than his/her non believing friends.
If, however, there is a God and a Heaven or Hell, then he/she has gained heaven and his/her skeptical friends will have lost everything in Hell.” (paraphrased).