What Will Happen Tomorrow? by David Ogden
We may make our plans from day to day – even hour by hour – but we can never be sure exactly what will happen next.
Think about the Asian tsunami, terrorist bombings, and the more recent earthquake in Pakistan, all of which ended the lives of thousands and changed the lives of countless more.
The unexpected can happen at any time. That is why we take out insurance policies – to try and safeguard against the unexpected. But what else should we be doing for the future?
Nobody likes to think about the day of their own departure, and all the more so if there is no belief in a life beyond the grave. Do you believe in an afterlife? Many people sincerely believe there is life beyond the grave. Is this just wishful thinking or a means to take some of the pain away from bereavement? If you do believe in an afterlife, how sure are you?
The Life Beyond
Suppose that one day you met a man you knew well, whose agonising death you had witnessed and whose burial you attended. What would you think if, a few days later, you saw him alive, with the marks of his terrible injuries still apparent? Would you then believe in the resurrection of the dead? I’m sure you would!
This was exactly what happened when Jesus of Nazareth, having been brutally executed by crucifixion and then buried, appeared three days later to those with whom he had lived and worked for more than three years. His death had come to them as a great shock. Before that they had believed that he was the Christ – the Son of God. They lost that hope, when he died. Now they regained it, confronted by the evidence that he was very much alive. And they came to believe that he will come again to reign on earth, because that is what he promised.
Believe The Evidence?
That record is part of the Bible. These people really did believe they had seen Jesus of Nazareth, raised from the dead. Remember this. Many of them later preached it and faced persecution and death for that belief. Please read these documents for yourself. Be critical and weigh the evidence, recognizing that one of the strongest evidences is the fact that the Old Testament (written centuries before Jesus was born) predicted both his death and resurrection.
Then ask yourself these questions.
Do you believe God raised his Son from the dead?
Do you believe he will Return to reign on earth?
Are you ‘in Christ’ and do you ‘belong to him’?
Jesus is Alive and Well by John Hellawell
Death is a fact of life: the one certainty in an uncertain world. When we are
young most of us give it little thought except, perhaps, when a friend or someone
close to us dies and we are reminded of our mortality. It is only as the years
advance and we experience the effects of ageing that death becomes a reality.
What happens when death occurs? This intriguing question has been answered in many ways. Recent interest has centred on "near death" experiences, when individuals who have been considered to be dead actually recover. There used to be medical explanations for the similar accounts of what happened next, including
passing through a tunnel;
experiencing a bright light;
having "out-of-body" sensations, with the patient looking down on their "death beds" or the operating table.
How can we Know?
As there is nobody living today who has survived death, and who lives to tell the tale, we are wholly dependent upon God's explanation of what happens next. Only the Lord Jesus Christ has been there, and come back, and he now sits at the Father's right hand in heaven. So what does the Bible say? The Bible's answer to the question of what happens at death is clear enough.
"The living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6).
Again, the Psalmist observes;
"For in death there is no remembrance of you (God); in the grave who will give you thanks?" (Psalm 6:5).
These two verses, out of many, make the position quite clear. Death is a state of oblivion in which nothing of our present consciousness survives. It is a perpetual "dreamless sleep". We shall see later that the last word, 'sleep' is particularly significant.
If you are thinking that the New Testament changes all that, and brings in a better hope, then think again. One of the best-known verses in the New Testament also explains that, without God's intervention, all humanity would be destined to perish in death:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
The wider context of this verse indicates that there are only two courses open to humanity:
belief in the Lord Jesus, which offers the prospect of eternal life and
indifference, which results in our perishing forever.
Just think this through, if you're still unsure about it. The certainty of death we have already recognised - nobody can escape it; eventually it will overtake all of us, because of our sin. Sin always pays its wages - it never fails! And, since all of us have sinned, all of us will be paid:
"For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. ..." (Romans 3:23);
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and thus death spread to all men, because all have sinned" (Romans 5:12);
We all sin; we all die. But we don't need to stay dead forever. For there is also the "gift" about which the apostle Paul wrote - "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord"
(Romans 6:23) - a gift we would all like to have - but how?
Escape from Death
Earlier in the same chapter from which this verse is taken, Paul explains that the rite of baptism, by which men and women start the Christian life, is based on the idea of resurrection from the dead. It's a chapter well worth reading right through, because baptism is a very important Bible idea, but here's an extract:
"Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:3-5).
The believer's hope of getting the gift of eternal life centres on the physical resurrection of the body from the grave, just as emergence from the waters of baptism signifies the start of a new life in Christ.
The hope of being raised from the dead, to live with Jesus and all the other resurrected people is firmly based on the solid reality of the resurrection of Jesus himself. The vital importance of this is dealt with in another of Paul's letters, that to the believers in the Greek city of Corinth.
They were a lively bunch, and some of them had misunderstood the Apostle's teaching on the subject; so it was necessary for him to explain again the vital link between the resurrection of Christ and that of believers in all ages.
He set out a sevenfold argument on the consequences of believing that there was no resurrection of the dead, and the passage is arranged below as though it were a list of Bible explanations:
"If there be no resurrection of the dead", Paul reasons,
"then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he did not raise up - if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:13-19)
???.to prevent the resurrection that they alone anticipated! The disciples were not expecting Christ's resurrection (Luke 24:21), but the Authorities remembered that he had claimed he would rise on the third day (Matthew 27:62-66), and they were intent on proving him false. Some hope, as it turned out!
Many attempts have been made to try to explain away the phenomenon of the resurrection but none has survived close scrutiny. For example, it was claimed that the women went to the wrong tomb and found it empty. Then why did the authorities not indicate the correct tomb and produce the body? More puzzling still, if the body was in another tomb why did they claim it had been stolen? And the arguments are not just defensive ones - to show that attacks on the historical record are unwarranted. There are powerful positive arguments too, like the rapid and effective growth of the early Christian community; the hardships willingly suffered by the Apostles in preaching Christ, and the failure of all the authorities to suppress it. These are all evidences of the reality of the resurrection. As the apostle Paul summed up the situation, and his words have stood the test of time:
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at his coming" (1 Corinthians 15:19-23).
What a glorious prospect this is for those who are Christ's, and who now await his return from Heaven.
Do I Have to Grow Old? by Joan Lewis
To make me look younger I can buy numerous anti-ageing products – face creams, hair dyes and toning creams – to name but a few.
If I want a really youthful look, and am prepared to pay, I can have a ‘chin tuck’, a ‘nose job’ or even improve my failing eyesight with laser treatment. But all this doesn’t stop me growing older. So, I ask, why do we all have to grow old?
Old age happens to us until finally we die. No one escapes death, not one; you never meet somebody who fought against Napoleon, or heard a speech by George Washington do you?
That’s because everybody dies - but do I have to physically grow old? Can’t I get to 21 and stay like that until I fade away at 75, 85 or whatever? Why does my body have to degenerate?
Well, one thing that ageing makes us do – if we stop to think about it – is to face up to the issue of death. If you always looked 21 you might be tempted to think you were going to live on for ever. But every wrinkle and every grey hair is God’s wake-up call to us. It reminds us that we won’t last forever in our present state.
What God Intended
Death is not the end; it can be just the beginning. When God created the earth and placed man on it, he didn’t design it so that we would die after a mere 70 or so years in which we could enjoy his wonderful creation. No. Death came into the world as a punishment, not as the gateway to heaven, as some people wrongly think. God said to Adam:
"Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return"
Death was a punishment for disobedience and death is there defined as a return to dust. That’s what happens when we die – we cease to exist – unless we do something about it.
"Man who is in honour, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish" (Psalm 49:20);
"Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish" (Psalm 146:3,4);
"They are dead, they will not live; they are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore you have punished and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish" (Isaiah 26:14)
It doesn’t have to be like that, if you don’t want it to be. When God made the earth, he made it as a place in which people would live forever. That’s probably why we all instinctively don’t want to die or even grow old – because we know deep inside that there is something better with God.
And there is!
It was an Old Testament prophet who explained:
"I have made the earth, and created man on it. It was I - My hands that stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded … Israel shall be saved by Yahweh with an everlasting salvation; you shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever. For thus says Yahweh, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: "I am Yahweh, and there is no other"(Isaiah 45:12,17-18).
If this idea is new to you, ask what Jesus meant when he said:
"Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
Or why did King David promise, in the same terms, that:
"Yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look diligently for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm 37:10-11; see also verses 22 and 29).
For Ever and Ever?
So how do we get to live forever? It’s easy when you know how:
Find out what God’s purpose was in sending Jesus to the earth, and what he really taught;
When you’re convinced about that:
Change your way of life by taking God into account and doing what He requires; that way you get to: Learn to live with a real and lasting hope.
It’s that simple. Once you resolve to follow the Lord Jesus, the perspective you once had on your existence will be hugely changed. You’ll find you have a new purpose in life and the world’s trivialities fade in their importance to you. Getting older will not matter anything like the same. You may even get accustomed to the idea of getting older gracefully, because getting older isn’t so much a sign of the end of existence. It’s a pointer to the fact that another and better life is to start after you are raised from the dead at the Coming to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All the creams science can produce won’t save us from death. All they can do is help to make us look younger than we really are.
But Jesus wants to give us life forever, and that is a promise that he most certainly can and will deliver.