This morning, we continue to commit to know God by diving into the depths of who He is.
Death. Ever since Adam and Eve chose their own desires over God’s word, death is the one thing that every single human being shares in common. Interestingly enough, it is a topic not commonly discussed nor considered throughout the course of our lives. Most of us are so busy and consumed with our daily lives that the reality that our lives could end at any unknown moment is a thought that rarely comes to mind.
Solomon, however, gave us this word of wisdom:
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.
All of us should live each day, making the most of every opportunity, because each day could very well be our last. After all, we are also very well aware that death is not by any means the end of our existence! All of us, whether we’ve put our faith in Christ or not, will face Christ face-to-face and give account for the lives that we chose to live. Death is not our end, it is the turning point from the temporary to the eternal, from our choices to our consequences.
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Although it may seem to be a few weeks early for this message, this morning, we are reminded that God is the resurrection.
We know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). In Jesus, there always has been, always is, and always will be life. This fact gives us hope and joy even within the context of death. The life that Jesus grants cannot be stolen away by anything, not even by death itself. It should be no surprise to us knowing this truth that Jesus raising again to life after the third day was not by any means the first resurrection that took place!
In John chapter 11, we find the account of Lazarus. The past few weeks, God reminded us of Mary, the very sinful woman who poured out expensive perfume over Jesus and washed His feet with her tears and hair. Lazarus was Mary’s brother as well as Martha’s. Lazarus had become very sick and died. Jesus knew that he had died and arrived at Bethany four days after his passing. Martha went out to confront Jesus when she heard that he was on his way to their home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life
. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Jesus did not only make an empty claim that He is the resurrection and the life, Jesus then backed this claim up with action by calling out to Lazarus and raising him from death to life! In Christ alone do we certainly have life knowing that because He is the resurrection, not even death can defeat us! It is interesting that Jesus didn’t say, “I can resurrect and give life.” or “I am one option for resurrection and life.” He literally said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
In just a few weeks, we’ll be reminded more fully that Jesus is indeed alive! However, this morning, God wants to remind us that He is the resurrection. We’re going to go over some scriptures relating to this to answer some questions that many of us may have regarding what happens when we die. After all, God does not want us to be ignorant, mistaken, or unaware of what happens upon death.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
When a believer dies, we grieve, but our grief is coupled together with hope. We can be certain that a day is drawing near when an event that we call the rapture will certainly take place. The rapture is our blessed hope, which we are certain of! The rapture isn’t to be confused with the second coming of Jesus, which we’ll discuss next week. During the rapture, Jesus does not step foot once again on the earth, but rather, He gathers together all believers to be with Him forever!
Our loved ones who have already passed away in death who have put their faith in Jesus will be raised to life first. Then us, who have also put our faith in Jesus and are still alive, will meet with our loved ones once again. Together, we will not only meet Jesus face-to-face, but be with Him and our loved ones forever!
With this knowledge in mind, we have hope, a blessed assurance that death is not by any means the end! When a believer dies, it is simply a, “See you later!” until we meet together with them once again. We also have this hope personally that we need not fear anything, not even our own death because not even death has power over us!
Next week, we’ll discuss what happens to those who pass away having never put their faith in Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul writes to the church in Corinth and reminds them of the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, he reminds them that this historical fact was confirmed by over 500 eyewitnesses. He reminds them that it is in the resurrection of Jesus alone that we have hope. He states that if the resurrection is not true, then Christians are the people to be pitied most because we sacrifice our lives in vain and are still lost in our sin.
1 Corinthians 15:32-58
32b If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 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.35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 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.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
On the day of our resurrection, we will be changed in an instant.
No, we will not become angels. Angels are heavenly beings that God uniquely created and are not by any means the same as mankind.
No, Peter is not the gatekeeper of Heaven or keeper of the Lamb’s book of life as often portrayed. We will answer to God alone for our lives and Jesus is the only gate and way into Heaven.
When we who have put our faith in Jesus are resurrected, we will receive glorified, imperishable, spiritual, powerful, immortal bodies. Paul likens this to a seed being planted in the ground. When we place a seed into the ground, it is put to death and buried. However, up from the soil comes life and that seed is transformed into a new type of body. This is an awesome analogy of what it is like when we are buried and then raised again to life.
A common concern for us is whether to be buried or cremated upon our death. The scriptures state that our bodies are nothing but dirt and dust and back to dirt and dust we’ll return. Abraham confirms this in Genesis 18:27 saying, “I am nothing but dust and ashes.” In my personal opinion, whether buried or cremated, our bodies will return to their original elements. God is then able, willing, and powerful enough to resurrect them into their glorified form no matter what decision we make regarding this. In fact, Hebrews 11 states that some great men d women of faith who faced severe persecution by being stoned, slain by the sword, and sawed in two refused to be released so that they would receive a better resurrection!
In John chapter 20, we learn a little bit about our resurrected bodies. Jesus appeared to his disciples and Mary Magdalene and they all immediately recognized Him. Therefore, we learn that our resurrected bodies will much resemble our current bodies. In fact, we even find that the wounds left by the nails holding Jesus to the cross and the wound left by the spear that pierced His side were still able to be touched and recognized. He entered the home where the disciples were meeting even though the house was locked up tight for fear of the Romans. Some believe this to be evidence that He could walk through walls, others believe that He could just appear whenever or wherever He’d like. In John chapter 21, we find the resurrected Jesus eating and drinking with His disciples.
Although we’re not 100% sure of all of the details of what our resurrected bodies will be like, we have some insight. The important thing is not for us to understand fully what our heavenly bodies will be like, but to be sure that we’ve put our faith in Jesus. This ensures that on that soon coming day when Jesus sounds the trumpet call, that you will not be left behind.
Just as Jesus declared, He is the resurrection and the life. There is soon coming a day when Jesus will take His own, both dead and alive, to Heaven to be with Him forever. Don’t miss this opportunity to be assured that you will not be left behind. Put your faith in Jesus this morning and choose from this day on to live every day as if though that is the day that you will meet Jesus face-to-face and give an account for your life. It’s important not only that we are living our lives in faith and at peace with God, but also that we share the hope that is within us with those around us who have not yet put their faith in Jesus.
We eagerly look forward to our resurrection with great expectation! However, how much more awesome will that moment be when you meet those also in Heaven with you forever because you lead them to Jesus?
The fact that Jesus died for my sins is amazing and overwhelming! However, if we just leave Jesus in the grave, we’re still left without hope because we serve a dead God. Praise be to God that He is risen! The resurrection changes everything for us! We now have hope! The same Holy Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave now lives in us!
This should change everything in our lives! We now have authority and have been so empowered that not even death can stop us! The resurrection gives us faith because we know that no matter how far gone things may seem, even things that may be dead to us, can be radically transformed by that same power that resurrected the widow’s son as Elijah prayed, the dead man thrown into Elisha’s grave, Lazarus at Jesus’ command, and Dorcas as Peter prayed. The resurrection gives us hope that nothing and no one is too far gone for God!
This morning, we have hope and faith and power because God is the resurrection!