Life After Death

John 11:17-27, Now when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethan was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to Him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Many do not believe in life after death. Indeed, many go out of their way to convince Christians that there is no afterlife—no Heaven or Hell. They believe that when a person dies, he merely ceases to exist, so the only life there is to live is this one—which, ultimately, becomes meaningless in a world with no afterlife and therefore no lasting meaning. I don’t know about you, but that’s a depressing belief. This is not my sole reason for believing in God, but it certainly helps. Others believe in reincarnation—that after death, the soul moves to another body. Life on earth continues—suffering on earth is a never ending cycle. Yet little do these people know the self-contradiction of karma and reincarnation. Buddhism and Hinduism both teach the self is reincarnated, but they both also deny that the personal self exists. In Hinduism, there is only Brahman (the divine identity) that leads to moksha (release from the wheel of reincarnation), yet it denies each person has a self. In Buddhism, the soul is nonexistent and the person can only achieve nirvana by transcending the realm of karma and rebirth. Yet if there is no self or soul, reincarnation cannot be possible and, therefore, moksha and nirvana do not exist. Regardless of its self-contradictory nature, some Christians still believe in reincarnation, but the Scriptures are clear: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement” (Hebrews 9:27).

God’s true people are not fooled by these worldly assumptions. God’s people know there is life after death, whether it’s eternal death in Hell or eternal life in Heaven. And God’s people know that after this life we do not live another one on earth, but enter the judgement of God. For unbelievers, they are judged under God’s Law. Christians, however, are judged under grace since we are no longer under law (Romans 6:14; cf. Colossians 1:21-23). In the above passage, Martha exhibited tremendous faith in Jesus. She knew that if Jesus were present before Lazarus’ death, He could have cured him. She even exhibited a preemptive faith in that she knew if God permitted Him, He could resurrect Lazarus right then and there. After saying that Lazarus will rise again, Martha thought He was referring to the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. This is extremely significant because Jesus had not yet taught about the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, but it is an Old Testament teaching. Isaiah 26:19, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.”

Likewise, Job confessed, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (19:25-26). Again in Daniel 12:2 we read the prophecy, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting death, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” So Martha was drawing upon the Old Testament Scriptures, which she had confessed her faith in the coming Messiah to bring about this final resurrection whom she acknowledged to be Jesus, and which Jesus confirmed by making known that this resurrection find its fulfilment in Him. And after Jesus weeps over Lazarus’ death, He raises him from the dead as a sign of the final resurrection (John 11:38-44).

As God’s people, we have the joy in that we share in the inheritance of Christ. “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11; see also Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4). “Inheritance” is a law type of language, so what is the inheritance of Jesus? His inheritance was resurrection by the glory of the Father, and we get to share in this inheritance! This happens first and foremost in our Baptism, which we will fully experience on the Last Day. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” The resurrection of Christ is His inheritance, which we share in as God’s adopted sons and daughters. “…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise… So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 3:26-29; 4:7).

As a son/daughter of God, therefore, you share in the inheritance of Jesus Christ for eternal life!

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