Death and Beyond

 

 

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Death and Beyond

Text: Luke 16:19-31

Dr Alex Tang

Summary

Death is not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.

What we do in this life on earth has bearing on what we and others

shall be doing for eternity.

 

1.                  Introduction

The two bombing in Bali and two in the Philippines shocked the world already jittery since 9-11. The world is again reminded how unsafe it is. Instead of armies fighting armies, it is now terrorism against innocent civilians, women and children. What these incidents also did was to remind us that we can die suddenly and violently. Our culture is a culture of denial of death. We do not want to think of death and be reminded of death. That is why in our media and our advertisements, we embrace youthful healthy men and women. Millions of dollars are spent in herbal medications to make us feel young and supposedly to retard aging. Plastic surgeons become rich in making people look younger. Why this obsession with youth. That’s become aging means you are closer to death. Dylan Thomas, a pop singer could be said to have coined the motto of our death denying culture.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at the close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

In the end, there is no escape from death. We all die.

2.                  The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31)

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores  21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house,  28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 ”‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Luke 16:19-31 describes the picture of where the dead goes. Humanity is made up of three parts: the body, the soul and the spirit. (1 Thess. 5:23). At death, the spirit and soul leaves the physical body (James 2:26; Acts 7:59, Lk 8:55). The physical body remains in the grace, its earthly tomb.

3.                  What Happens after Death.

3.1              Old Testament Teaching

§         At death, the spirit leaves the body to go to a place called Hades (New Testament) or Sheol (Old Testament)

§         Both believers and non-believers go to Hades or Sheol.

§         Before the Fall, there is no death. Sheol existed after the Fall.

§         There is an area in between, called the great gulf, where no one could cross (Lk.16:26).

§         However, those on one side of the gulf can see what is happening on the other side.

3.2              When Jesus Came

§         When Jesus came and died on the cross, He went to Paradise (Lk. 23:42,42, 1 Peter 3:18-19)

§         Jesus in the spirit, went to proclaim to the spirits in prison that He has overcome death (1 Peter 3:19, Lk.16:23)

There are 4 possible interpretation of the spirits in prison

(a)    the spirits are souls of the faithful of OT and Christ went to proclaim his redemption to them.

(b)   the spirits are souls of those who died in Noah’s flood

(c)    the spirits are fallen angels

(d)   the spirits are offspring of fallen angels (Gen.6:1 ff)

There is no indication that spirits of the dead were given a second chance at salvation.

Purgatory in Roman Catholic thought developed during the Middle Ages. Purgatory is the doctrine that intermediate state between death and final judgement is not only a place of mixed blessing and torment but also a place of punishment towards blessing as postbaptismal sins are atoned for. There is no biblical support for this doctrine.

§         When Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended on high with a host of captives (Eph.4:8)

3.3              New Testament Teaching (After Jesus)

§         When believers die, they go to be with the Lord.

§         When unbelievers die, they go to the prison part of Hades/Sheol.

3.4              New Testament Teaching (At the Rapture)

§         Believers will be resurrected. The dead first .

§         Then the living will be caught up.

§         All will be given new bodies- a resurrected body (Rom.8:22-23)

3.5              New Testament Teaching (Second Coming of Jesus Christ)

§         Jesus comes with the saints.

§         Destruction of the Antichrist (Dan.7:26)

§         Setting up the Millennium Rule of Christ.

3.6              New Testament Teaching (Final Judgement)

§         The unbelievers will be resurrected for the Great White Throne Judgement (Rev.20:11-15)

§         The guilty will be thrown into a Lake of Fire (Hell) (Rev.20:14-15)

§         Destruction of present heaven and earth and a creation of new heaven and earth ( Rev.20:11)

4.                  How Then Shall We Live?

4.1              We live our lives with one eye on the future.

If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior, we shall be resurrected and be with Him either with or after the rapture. We shall be in heaven and in time in the New Jerusalem. We shall have communion with the Lord which is beyond anything we can ever imagine. And we shall be with God for all eternity. That is something to look forward to. So no matter how bad our present circumstances are, how bleak our present, how much pain and suffering we are going through, the afterlife is something for us to look forward to. It is like a man making a long voyage home. No matter how difficult the journey, how perilous, how uncomfortable, he can bear it because he know that at the end of the journey is his home.  Viktor Frankl endured years of unspeakable horros in the Nazi death camps. During and partly because of his sufferings, he came to believe that man’s primary motivating force is the search for meaning. Hence his book, Man’s Searching for Meaning. Anyone can endure anything as long as he or she sees meaning in his or her suffering. God in overcoming death has given us this meaning.

4.2              We live our lives with one eye on the present.

What we do with our life now counts for eternity. God will remember our service to Him, our faithfulness and our sacrifice. There are eternal rewards given to Christians at the time of judgement.

Unfortunately for those who have heard the gospel and rejected it in this present life will suffer eternal damnation in the fires of hell. There is no second chance after death.

5.                  Concluding Remarks

Death is the ending of the beginning. What we do in this life on earth has bearing on what we shall be doing for eternity.

                        

                                                                                                                                                      Soli Deo Gloria

 

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