Today: 01 September 2014
 
 

  

Life after death  


This life is short.
What of the next?

“I’m not afraid of dying,” said Woody Allen, “I just don’t want to be around when it happens.”

I’m sure we can all sympathise! Many of us might put it differently: “I’m not afraid of death—it’s just the process that scares me!”

The old saying goes that there’s nothing certain in this life other than death and taxes, yet many of us take an ostrich-like approach to death and are unable even to think about it.

When we go on holiday, we check out the travel agents’ brochures, look up the resort on the internet, book hotels and tickets, plan our itineraries, sort out our visas and currency… all this for a week. Yet so few of us make the slightest preparations for eternity! Foolish, isn’t it?

There are practical considerations. If you haven’t yet made a will, do so as soon as possible. It will save those you leave behind a lot of trouble. If there are rifts in relationships that really ought to be healed, or love that needs to be expressed, why wait until the opportunity may be lost?

As for what happens when we die, some people claim to have had ‘near-death’ experiences, which are not for me to discount.

However, for the Christian the only certainty is that which is based on the Bible. Just before he died, Jesus spoke to his disciples and told them he was going to prepare a place for them. Then he made them an amazing promise: “…I go and prepare a place for you; I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Two things are important here: firstly, that death means going to be with Jesus; secondly, that Jesus will escort us through the process of death.

Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885) was a Christian social reformer who worked hard to improve the conditions of the poor in his day. When he was dying, he was so thrilled at the prospect of meeting Jesus that his doctor has to say to him, “My dear sir—you will never die in this state of excitement!” Presumably he calmed down enough to be able to draw a last breath.

Let me remind you of an incident recorded in the Bible. Two common criminals were executed on crosses alongside Jesus when he died. One of them turned to him and asked to be remembered when he came into his kingdom (quite what he meant by that, we don’t know). Jesus’ response was to say, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Here was a man who had run out of time to change his life, and had no opportunity to be baptised—yet he was assured beyond death of a place with Jesus.

Although the Bible always links death with the consequences of our wrongdoing, Jesus’ death on the cross makes our forgiveness possible when we truly turn to him. And so what happens when we die is determined by our response to Jesus while we live.


Explore this subject in more depth

Pray: Lord, I want to believe there’s more to life than this—and that there’s an eternal life for me, with you. I don’t want to miss that boat: I want to receive your salvation, so that I can get on-board. Please draw close to me so that I can get to know you, even as you already know me inside-out. Amen.

Look up what Jesus said about his preparations for our eternal life

Watch the video clip The List

Watch the video clip I was here

Watch the video clip Faith vs fear

Read the testimony of someone who then died

Read the book The Message of Heaven and Hell by Bruce Milne

Read the book Home with God: In a Life That Never Ends by Neale Donald Walsch



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