“I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus will return to judge all people and to establish his eternal kingdom.”
A pastor visited an older man. The Pastor said, “At your age you should be thinking about the hereafter.” The older man replied, “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am - in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement - I ask myself, ‘What am I here after?’”
Christian author Phillip Yancey wrote, “Although [most] of us believe in an afterlife, no one much talks about it. Christians believe we will spend eternity in a splendid place called heaven . . isn’t it a little bizarre that we simply ignore heaven acting as if it doesn’t matter?”
We may not talk about it much, but I think most of us think about it. A key question for this week might be:
What’s going to happen to us?
I know in the last years and months of my mother’s life she was preoccupied with that question. What happens to me after I die? She wondered also what happened to her beloved niece who had died and been cremated. How are we bodily resurrected if our body decays in the ground or is burned by cremation.
Jesus said, “John 14:1-2 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
You may have faith to accept that promise at face value.
But if we were honest in our heart of hearts most of us would have to confess that we still really wonder what heaven will be like. We wonder about eternity. It’s a concept we can’t wrap our finite brains around.
The dictionary says that eternity is “a state to which time has no application” or “endless life after death.”
I don’t know about you, but I have a watch on my wrist, a clock on each of my 2 cell phones and one on my landline. I have a clock on my computer and on my tablet and in my car. It’s pretty hard for me to imagine a state to which time has no application.
But I’ve made peace with the truth that there are things I cannot comprehend. I accept by faith that because of Jesus I will live eternally with God following my life here on earth.
But what about our question – What’ going to happen to me?
Are there answers to be found?
Someone may say that in heaven we are all spirits, so they can’t envision their loved one in heaven and don’t understand how they will know their loved one.
Historically, there has been great debate about what the elemental make up of a human is. Some pointed to Genesis and said we are body (created by God from dust) and we are souls (breath of life breathed into us by God).
Others pointed to Mark 12:30 “Love the lord your god will all your heart, soul and mind.” And argue that we are of 3 elements. Our bodies are the physical element. The soul, in greek the psyche, is the animal principle of life, heartbeat and breath. And the spirit, in greek pneuma, the thoughtful and rational element, our minds.
But scripture is not at all clear on exactly which of these elements continue to exist after death or when and how resurrection occurs – and certainly not as clear as many believers would like.
Perhaps the most declarative words in scripture on the subject are found in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, chapter 15.
The Christians at Corinth were asking the same questions we do:
Is there really a resurrection?
What will it be like?
What difference does it make?
Paul is clear. Yes. There is a resurrection of the dead. Resurrection is true. Logically, if we believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it follows that we believe in resurrection. If we don’t believe in resurrection, then we cannot believe that Christ was resurrected and our faith becomes meaningless and worthless to us.
The dead are resurrected. This much is true.
The Corinthians also wanted to know what kind of body the dead have. Paul gives a great illustration here, and I would like the children to come down at this time.
Paul says that just was we have an earthly body now, one day we will have a heavenly or glorified body. We don’t know exactly what it will be like. He tells us to consider seeds.
Does anyone know what kind of seed this is. (corn) and if you put this seed into the ground it is changed. Paul says, it’s like it dies. But then something amazing happens. Something completely new and different grows from that seed. It looks like this. A stalk of corn. A field of corn.
This is a seed pod. It came from my back yard. It we open it up we find the seeds inside. What do you think this seed grows into if it is planted in the ground? That big _locust______ tree just outside the back door of the church.
And this is another seed. It’s very small. When we plant it, it grows to become a beautiful flowering mustard plant.
The Apostle Paul tells us that even though we don’t understand exactly what our heavenly bodies will be like, they will be as different as the corn seed is from the corn stalk, the _________seed from the ______________ and the ___________________________ from the ____________________________.
They will be different. They will be great. They will be more. They will be better. Maybe they will be more beautiful. On the days when I look in the mirror and think -Ugh….on the days when my bones ache and my skin itches….knowing I will have an eternal, resurrection body one day makes me very happy and hopeful. Let’s pray: Thank you, God, for the promise of eternity and the promise of a resurrection body. It makes us so happy to know that when the body we have now gets used up and doesn’t work anymore we will have a new and glorious body and a new and glorious life with you. Amen.
The resurrection is real and true. We will have a new and glorified, imperishable body. WE will be changed and we will live eternally with God after our death here.
It doesn’t answer all of our questions, perhaps, but it is a really good start. And for me, it is enough.
Because these two things alone make a great difference.
What difference does it make?
Because the promise of eternal life is true we can love with abandon.
In the end it won’t matter
· What kind of car you drove
· Who you voted for
· Whether you prefer organ music or guitar music
· Where you stood on this or that issue
· Who wore dress clothes and who wore jeans and tee-shirts to church
All these things will fade away and only one will remain…only one will really matter: How much did you love.
The promise of eternal life matters. Because of the promise of eternal life, our mission becomes crystal clear. We are to lead people to Jesus.
We don’t brow beat them into faith in Jesus. We don’t scare them into heaven
We lead them to Jesus and thereby lead them into the same hope we have –the hope of resurrection, the hope of eternal life.
How you live in this life matters so much for the afterlife.
Everyone is watching to see how you lead. They are taking their cues from you.
With every word
Every choice about what kind of character you possess
You are leading people to either heaven or hell.
We haven’t spoken much about hell today. On that subject I leave you with a rather simple, but profound thought. The best definition I have heard for hell is simply this: Eternity …Eternity without God. File that away and think about it later.
Finally, the promise of eternal life matters because the promise allows us to live with hope today.
Hope invades this finite life from eternity and changes our perspective with transformational power.
Rejected and persecuted because of Jesus? Hope says, I will serve him anyway.
Sick and in pain? hope says, “Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed? Why are you so upset inside? Hope in God! Because I will again give him thanks, my saving presence and my God.” Psalm 42.11
Feeling sickened by the sin in your life? Hope says, “Have mercy on me…because you, My Lord, are good and forgiving, full of faithful love for all those who cry out to you.” Psalm 86
Mourning the death of a precious loved one? Hope says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil, for God is with me.” Psalm 23
The lost will be found.
Darkness shall be overcome by the Light of God.
Good will prevail over evil.
Sadness will be turned to joy.
Pain will be transformed to pleasure.
Because of Jesus. Because of his atoning death and resurrection.
Because resurrection is true….because eternity is real, our lives, even here and now, are hopeful.
Praise be to God!
Let us sing of the victory and the promise that is ours because of Jesus.
Victory in Jesus
15 minutes with Kings Kids