DEATH AND THE LIFE AFTER
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;and the books were opened:and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”(Revelation 20:12)
And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie;but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”(Revelation 21:27)
This will be happening after the moment we breathe our last breath on earth.Judgement awaits us…but is our name in the book of life?Surely not, if we have not been washed by the Blood of the Lamb and and become a follower of Jesus..then judgement awaits us.
Death is something that many people try to avoid since the beginning of time.Some people try to forget death that happens around them.There are those who just ignore it.Others pretend not to be too concern about it.Hence many people are putting death aside until death suddenly visit their household.Many pastors avoid preaching on the topic of death.You will also find people who does not want to hear about it. Death, to many people has become a “taboo.”
To ignore death is tragic and perhaps one of the greatest mistake any human can possibly make.To ignore death means not to prepare to die.Those who are prepared to die are those who are prepared to live.In fact Jesus came to save us from eternal death, which is inter-related to our physical death that every living thing will ultimately meet.Everyone, rich and poor, kings and ordinary people will face the ultimate certainty- death.
“Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgement.”(Hebrew 9:27)
The first part of this verse is very clear- that everyone will die.Death makes equal the powerful and the weak, the high and the low, the rich and the poor.We can avoid it for some time,we can delay it for a moment, but surely it will come uninvited.
Death sympathizes no one at all.It does not care whether you are in the womb, babies, young people or old person.It will still come at any time.Some people speed death by committing suicide. Others make choices that destroy their bodies and hence meet death.But for sure, majority of people do not want to die.
Death brings sorrows and sadness to all people.One thing that we know is, no one knows the day or the hour of his death.
ORIGIN OF DEATH
Adam and Eve were comanded not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge or they would die.They chose to ignore God’s warning and so the penalty of sin is death.So death comes to mankind.
Death is the enemy of God because it destroys life, in contrast to God, who is the creator and author of life.The last enemy to be destroyed is death(1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
Hence, the Bible stresses that death is an enemy of both God and us.An enemy to us because it snatches a child before he learns to walk or play, it stops people from pursuing their careers.It interrupts family life making children into orphans or widows.It leaves destruction everywhere it goes.
HUMAN REACTIONS TO DEATH
People react differently to death.Some are in extreme fear of death, including Christians.The fear of a painful death, the fear of being separated from love ones or from the wealth that they had acummulated, the fear of the afterlife when they die.Some evil people make use of death to end the life of others because they thought that it will end any form of resistant or revenge.But those who take other people lives will meet theirs eventually and also meet the Author of life.The fear of death is often manupilated by the devil.What the devil fear most is that man is not afraid to die.
GENUINE FEAR OF DEATH
The verse above which says” It is destined for man to die once and afterwards face judgement,”should make every one
afraid to die.So it is not the end of life when we die.The moment after we die, we will face the judgemental seat of God.We have to make an account of what we had done while on earth.For Christians, they need not fear death because the Bible says that, “That there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”So once we are in Christ Jesus, then, when we die, we do not face judgement anymore but we will be with Jesus in Paradise! Only those whose life is without Christ will definitely fear to die!
Therefore, before death comes to us, we should be prepared by accepting Jesus as our Lord and saviour.Those who accept the Lord Jesus Christ before they die will not be condemned but will inherit eternal life with Jesus.Those who refuses will face judgement when they die.
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
Jesus told the desciples one parable in Luke 16:19-32) about a rich man or ruler and a poor sick individual called Lazarus.When they both died, Lazarus went straight to Abraham’s side, while the rich guy was on the other side- in pain and suffering in hell.They were separated, one to heaven among the saints while the other in hell.This does not mean that all poor guys will go to heaven and all rich guys will go to hell.Poor people who did not believe in Jesus will not inherit heaven.Rich people who had used their wealth wisely for God’s kingdom and accepted Jesus will surely receive even more in heaven.This parable tells us the two destination that awaits man when he dies.Perhaps, the rich had already had all his enjoyment and now the time has come for him to experience what the poor man had experienced while on earth.This parable also clearly reveals to us
that there is life after we die in this world.And where we go next depends on who we believe in this world.Only those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and accept Him as his saviour will be on Abraham’s side.What about the wealth that we had amassed in this world. The Bible clearly states that none will follow us when we die.
The psalmist says,” Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.”(Psalm 49:16-17).So if we are not careful, the love and preoccupation over those things will divert our attention to what is above and eternal, a life in heaven.Our love for money and fun in this world will cause us to lose eternal life when we die.”What does it profit a man to have the whole world but lose his own soul?”Be warned therefore, not to trouble yourselves with perishable things.Love the Lord and heaven or love the life of this world and forget about heaven!These treasures will undoubtly distract our attention because “where our treasure is, there is our hearts also.”So too much treasure here on earth will make us disinterested in going elsewhere. But if God did give us tremendous amount of wealth, then, God is giving you a great amount of talents, of which you will have to make an account when you leave this world. Sharing our wealth, helping the poor and needy and giving for God’s work will make us wealthier in heaven.
IS DEATH THE END?
To those who believes in the life after death, death is not the end for them. The Bible teaches about life after death, eternal life in heaven or eternal suffering in hell.
To those who do not believe in the life after death, their opinion of life in this world will be different.They will think that since this life is the only life, they will try their best to do whatever they want to do before death.
Unfortunately, not believing in the life after death does not mean that we will be spared from what is prepared by God for all mankind once this bodily death comes to us.This death on this earth is just involving our physical body but the spirit continues to live. God is spirit, so our spirit will be able to see Him.
PUTTING OUR HOUSE IN ORDER
Putting our house in order means we are aware of the consequences when we die.On earth, we are given chances after chances to manage our lives and in fact, no one is to be blamed if we could not make it to heaven.But when we die, and our spirit meets our Maker, the Bibles speaks of no other but separation immediately, either to heaven or to hell.That is why, we need to prepare ourselves by looking and following what the Bibles says.Our life is just a journey and we will go to a place of no return, but what we do on earth will determine where we will go in the afterlife.The HOUSE is not only our family but our own self, which is always related to those around us.
I still remembered about my late cousin, who actually died in my arms or in my car while I was trying to reach the hospital.He had a heart attacked.My late cousin, who was a retired senior police officer seldom enter the church.But one sunday, he and his wife suddenly appeared in the church where his own brother was preaching.That was about a week before he died. After that service, he shook hands with everyone in the church including his brother, he also asked for forgiveness. Who moved his heart to attend service for the last time? And it was no coincidence that my family went to my brother’s house which was nearby before going to my home village in the highlands. The wife and her grand children informed us that night and we rushed him to the hospital, but he was gone.
This brother who died a year later was a retired teacher.As soon as he retired, he went back to school- this time to a Bible school to be a pastor. He graduated and became a pastor in his own village church. After serving the government for many years, he finally decided that he must serve the Lord before he died. What a decision.
Many years ago, I had served in a remote place. There a family adopted me as their eldest son. Their children were not with them, but stayed in Peninsula Malaysia. So they were left alone in the village. They adopted me and were very close to me. I helped them with their paddy field etc.
Then my adopted father was diagnosed as having cancer. He left to stay with his son-in-law, who was a doctor. But his health deteriorated. When they sent him back to the village, he was dying. But he managed to stay on for two weeks. He used that time to give advice after advice to his children and family members and officially adopted me as his son who will be in-charge of the family possessions. His advices were actually preaching the word of God, because he was before this, the elder of the local church there.Then at midnight on Christmas eve, he breathed his last, witnessed by his family members including myself.That was the first time I witnessed a death which was so peaceful. People dreamed of him being lifted by some angels. Exactly before he died, his spirit visited my family. My government quarters was just five minutes away and my wife was alone with my two little boys then. My wife told me, she was not sure whether she was dreaming or not, that the door had open a bit and he told her that he was going, and he asked to look after the children well. He was given a little time to say goodbye to my wife and children!
We are on borrowed time. Any time God might come or we might be going before His coming. Whatever, we are on borrowed time. Jesus mentioned about a person who said that he will build a bigger barn etc, thinking that he will still be alive the next day. But Jesus said that that’s man life will surely be taken away from him.
How long is borrowed time? Only God will decide and only He will know when we breathe our last breath.Just that we are not able to figure out how long is the time given to us.
Hence, we are at God’s mercies. And God had been merciful to us and continues to be merciful to us everyday.That is why we should thank God for each day that God adds to our life.It is because of God’s mercies that we are still alive today.
Many people thinks that this life is their own and they belong to noone but themselves.But the Bible says that we will give an account of everything that we do on earth to God when our time comes. Paul says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Which means our lives belongs to God.Our life is actually borrowed life for we will return to God when we die!Therefore brethren, make good of your life for God.
TEMPORARY HOME ON EARTH
The song, “This world is not my home,”gives us a clear message that our lifespan on earth is but a mere bit compared to eternity that we will spend either in heaven or on hell. For the Christians, their home is in heaven. Paul called upon us to always “set our eyes on things above” and not on things of the world which are temporary. Even our bodies are but a temporary house or tent for we will be given new ones in the afterlife.Imagine the condition of a person who is burned to death or run over by a huge truck. Their spirit will just leave their body and enter the spiritual realms. Our current bodies will decay and nomore but our spirit moves on. Our short life span means this world is just a temporary home. And how we use the time on earth will really determine where we will be placed in the next life.
DENIAL OF THE AFTERLIFE
The main activities of the devil is to ensure that many people do not know Jesus Christ and heaven.The devil will try to influence everyone on this earth to live as they like, and if possible, not to believe in God. So the free thinkers and those who refuse to believe in God are really conned by the devil. The devil use fear of death as the main weapon to destroy. Those who do not believe in God for sure are afraid to die.So the devil threatens people with “death” and really he strikes people with terror. But the Christian who knows where he is going needs not worry. In fact people who are afraid to die are at the mercy of the devil. What the devil is really afraid of is for those christians who are not afraid to die.He is unable to use the threat of death anymore.
Many people seek help from witchcraft etc. to gain protection, rather than giving themselves to Jesus for protection.This false assurance of protection from the powers of darkness is rather rampant nowadays and the devil is really trying to tell people that he is more powerful, when in fact, he is not.
BORN TO DIE
We are born to die.We are uncertain when our turn will come but we are pretty sure, it will come sooner or later.There is no doubt about that. Everytime I passed by a cemetery there is always new grave.Very sad indeed but that’s the reality.How happy we are when new birth happens in our family but the happiness will turn to weeping when someone in that family dies.So we begin our journey at birth and end the first chapter of our life in physical death.The next chapter is leaving our decayed body to face our Maker who will decide where we go.On earth we were given a lot of freedom to make decisions but when we die, God is going to make the decision of where we go. To heaven or to hell. But the Bible speaks to us about what to expect.Where would you go after death?Funny question isn’t it.Some one will answer- to the grave of course, BUT our spirit lives.Just put a bean seed in the ground and a few days later a new plant will grow from the dead seed.
Jesus told one of the two hanging by His side that “he will be with Him in paradise.”Paul said that he was caught up into the “Third Heaven.”The prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah both had a vision of heaven. The disciples witnessed Jesus being lifted up and disappeared from their sight. Heaven, therefore is above.
The Third heaven, is where the throne of God is.The holy angels dwell there and become God’s messengers.Abraham told the rich man that heaven and hell is separated and no one can go from hell to heaven or vice versa.
In the Bible, two individuals were taken alive into heaven by God.Who were there?One was taken by God because he always walk with God.The other was a prophet who was taken onto a chariot enroute to heaven.
Heaven awaits the true Christian who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Saviour. Heaven is where we will glorify and enjoy God forever.Heaven is a place, designed by the greatest architect and it is promised that there we will receive our glorious inheritance.It would certainly be magnificent- an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us(1 Peter 1:4)
There are many description of hell.The Bible tells us that it is a place for those who does not believe and accept Jesus as Lord and saviour.It is originally prepared for the devil but at the second death, those who are not saved are thrown there.
Jesus mentioned hell as a place of torment, “fire of hell(Matthew 5:22),weeping and gnashing of teeth( Matthew 13:41-42),lake of fire(Rev.20:14-15)and where their worms will never die(Mark).
Like Heaven, hell is a real place.People who die go to a place of no return,A path once taken by everyone of us.People are murdered because the murderers believe those they kill will not be able to live again to tell others what had happened. That’s why, people are murdered or killed by those who think that what they had committed are not known. But unfortunately, none is concealed at all.In the life after death, everything concealed will be known and how terrible it would be for those who take the life of others unnecessarily.
Even though no human ever came back, Jesus did by rising from the dead to tell everyone of us about the life after death.Do you want to gamble your life away?
GAMBLING OUR LIFE
Many people gamble with life. They accepted Christ when they were in difficulties and afterwards, deny Him.Some left the faith in Jesus for other faith because of many things such as marriage, business, politics, money and power.All these things are but temporary gain because as we get closer to our MAKER, these will drag us away from eternal life.When we are no longer a believer in Christ, Jesus will say, “I don’t know you”, at the gates of heaven.
Others thought that they want to enjoy life first and will accept Christ on their death bed.But who knows, God will take them any time that they are not prepared.If the Holy Spirit leaves a person, even on the death bed, the person will not acknowledge God.
We want to enjoy life?This life on earth is just a short moment.Eternity is just at the corner and are we willing to mess our life by selling it for temporary gain?
THEY DO NOT FEAR DEATH
Jesus’ disciples did not fear death because to them it means entering a glorious life with Jesus.Death to Christians means leaving this world to a much better place where God dwells. one of the devil chief tool is to cause people to fear death by painting a horrible picture about death.It is indeed horrible for those who do not accept Jesus because they will end up in hell but for the true Christians, death means entering heaven- the city of God.
MANSIONS WAITING FOR THE SAVED
Jesus told His disciples that He will leave them to PREPARE A PLACE FOR THEM, MANSIONS, where He goes, they will also go. John’s Gospel describles clearly the place all the believers will go when they die in the Lord. When a person dies, their relatives comfort themselves that their love ones are in heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ.But deep in our heart we might have some doubt whether our love ones will be in heaven or not by the way he or she lived before he or she departs.Only those who are saved in the Lord Jesus Christ will inherit the kingdom of God.Those who accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour will go to heaven.Those who did not bother to worship God, those who remain in sins, those who worship themselves or treasures of the world, whose idols are worldly singers etc.. will not enter heaven. As the mansions in heaven are built when we commit what we have for the Lord, giving for the extension of God’s kingdom, helping the poor and unfortunates and suffering because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and following Jesus.. we will have no mansion if we did not bother at all about God.
Many people were given a revelation of the mansions describe by Jesus.What we give for God will be our preparation to dwell in the beautiful mansion God will give to us when we die.
So what we actually give to God will determine that.
ONE BY ONE THEY LEFT..WHERE DID THEY END UP?
A businessman entered my office at about noon.He was determined to sell his books then he said that he is a man who believes in destiny.He was not a Christian, but he said it twice that he believes in a destiny for man.
Man will go somewhere.. there is no doubt about that.The Bible speaks of two places, heaven or hell.So man will go to any one of these.
Everytime I go back, some one had LEFT already. And everytime I passed by the Christian cemetery, There is always group of people at a funeral.Almost every week this is happening. One bay one they left to a destination which is determined by our own decision while on earth.
So when will it be our turn?
BUILDING A MANSION ON EARTH
Everywhere I go, I look at enormous buildings or homes belonging to wealthy individuals.Big mansions, splendid vehicles and big companies and big money too.The Bible says that we must not envy those who piles riches because they will not bring their wealth with them when they die. That is why Christians, even though God gives them riches and wealth, they use their wealth to help in the ministry. Rarely you see them build enormous mansion because they know, they will not bring any to heaven.But is is wise for Christians to be able to earn enough not only to support their families but the ministry of Jesus Christ as well.
The real danger of being filthy rich and living an extremely comfortable place here on earth is that we might lose interest of going elsewhere… I mean to heaven.If we are too comfortable here, we might not be interested to go to another place.
Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.To go to heaven, which will happen after death, we need Jesus.How? There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. So those who accept Jesus as their Lord and saviour will receive eternal life. So our salvation is by accepting Jesus, any no other. Without Jesus you are lost.