Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Death 4 - Dead and gone forever?    (5/2/2010 1)

Perhaps the biggest questions people ever ask involve life and death. So let’s take a quick tour of some of them:

Is there life after death?
The Bible tells of several people being raised from the dead—most famously, Jesus himself. But while miracles can still happen, I think what we really mean is, ‘Is there a heaven—and how do I get in?’ Unless God is a liar (and if he’s God, how can he be?) there IS a heaven, and the way to get in is simple: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”(John 3:16)—see also John 5:24.

Will I see loved ones again?
Only believers in Christ are promised eternal life—so all we can know for certain is that believers will be together with him. What about others? We need to trust them to God knowing that he is completely loving and totally fair.

Will loved ones recognise each other in heaven?
There’s every reason to think so: the disciples recognised Jesus when he rose from the dead, after all.

Do animals go to heaven?
This isn’t mentioned in the Bible, so we don’t really know… perhaps we can see it this way: our pets are a gift from God, and heaven is a place full of the best gifts of all.

What are relationships like in heaven? 
“When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven,” says Mark chapter 12, verse 25. So we can expect to be thrilled to recognise loved ones—but relationships will be different; richer, fuller, but different.

Do the dead linger on earth?
Opinions vary… but personally, I don’t think so. People who believe they’ve encountered ghosts—either unexpectedly or in a séance—may be being cruelly deceived by a human or spiritual body.

Should we pray for the dead?
Some traditions, such as Roman Catholicism, do pray for the dead. Others believe that we are responsible for how we respond to God in this life—and that no one can change that outcome for us after we’ve died.

Should we try and communicate with the dead?
The Bible strictly forbids this. Deuteronomy 18:10 says “Let no one be found among you who… practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft…” (see also Leviticus 19:31). And Isaiah 8:19 tells us the only place we should seek guidance is from God: “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”

How can I cope with the grief of bereavement?
Losing a loved one can feel unbearable. Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)—and also in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. God gives us hope for now, through the comfort and joy of our personal relationship with him, but also hope for the future: not only that cares and grief will disappear in heaven, but that all that we care for will be held in Jesus Christ.

Pray: Father, help me to think clearly, and in a godly way, about death... help me to distinguish between the myths and distractions in society around me, and your word which is true. Let your Holy Spirit guide me in all things. I pray for the safety of my own spirit, and of those whom I love, that we may join you in heaven one day. Amen.

Think about: Modern culture is full of references to ghosts and communicating with the dead. Imagine that all of the movies, books, hobbies and music which deal with these subjects were part of a well-integrated advertising campaign. What do you think the purpose of such a campaign might be? Could it be to distract you from the truth - the truth that is God?

Challenge: Lots of people have all sorts of ideas about what it takes to be a Christian: like living a good life, being kind, doing no harm... But the Bible is very clear! No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. No matter how good or bad a life you lead, the only way to be a Christian (and to access eternal life, therefore) is to believe in Jesus and his death and resurrection. Does this match what you thought it takes to be a Christian? Is there anything you need to do to correct your relationship with God?

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