Life, the Afterlife, and the Life After the Afterlife

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-resurrection-and-lifeFrom the moment we are born, our bodies begin sowing the seeds of biological destruction. Yet, death is hardly the end. The cycle of life and death is forever broken through resurrection.  Four days after Lazarus died, Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23).* You might recall what Martha said. She said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). Then Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).” In saying this, Jesus pointed to himself as the very one who would overcome death and the grave, and as such insure that all who put their trust in Him will experience resurrection at the last day.

The Old Testament prophet Daniel likened resurrection at the end of time to the glory of the stars. The infamous words, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:2-3). The resurrection envisioned is unambiguous. Daniel speaks not only of the disembodied state that follows death, but of the bodily resurrection following Christ’s second appearing.

Jesus gave certainty to the resurrection, a resurrection that will occur at the consummation of history, when He said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice  and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28-29). All who place their trust in Jesus can be absolutely certain that they will experience resurrection. Jesus’ promise that He will lay down His life and take it up again in three days is absolute guarantee (John 2:19; 10:18; Matt. 16:21; Luke 9:22; 24:1-53). His fulfillment of the promise is proof positive that there will not only be life after life, but life after life after life.

All of this is not merely academic to me, in the early morning hours of today (October 17, 2016) my son-in-law passed away. Only forty-seven years of age. But I have absolute certainty, as does the entirety of my family, that we will see him again. Death is not the end. All will be resurrected. We know that he is now absent from the body, he is present with the Lord, and when Jesus appears a second time, he will appear with Jesus.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4 writes, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God” (v. 5). Think about that last statement “each will receive his praise from God.” When a human being praises you is one thing, when God praises you it is the apex of all experiences. I also think of 1 Thessalonians 4 where P aul says, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  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” (vv. 13-14). This is the great and glorious hope of resurrection. It is what animated the early church. People who were once cowards became lions in the faith. Why? They saw their Lord having risen from the dead in His post-resurrection appearances, and they knew that they too would rise immortal, imperishable and incorruptible. They counted not their lives worthy even unto death.

—Hank Hanegraaff

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984) unless noted

This blog adapted from the October 17, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

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