A Life After Death
It is a joy to be included and wanted. Jesus wants us to be with Him. We can be comforted that this life isn't all there is. We have sorrow in bereavement, but it is without the hopelessness. When Christ returns the dead in Christ will rise first and receive their glorified bodies.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Oh, I’m fine, thank you; happy in the Lord, keeping plugging along, and so grateful, oh, so grateful for the privilege of being back with you for a few moments, just to share from the Word of God. I think the most relaxing, and blessed, and happy, and fulfilling times of one’s life turn out to be those times when you share eternal matters with someone else who also knows and loves the Lord Jesus Christ.
You and I are walking around in the Book of 1 Thessalonians, and we’re in Chapter 4 now. The last time we got together, we were in Verse 13, where Paul said, “I would not have you be ignorant concerning them which are asleep,” (that means people who have died in faith in Christ), “that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope.” The sorrow of the believer is true sorrow. Bereavement hurts. There is that final knife-edge that cuts somehow into the very essence of your soul, when you realize that someone very dear to you has gone. And yet, there’s a difference. The despair and the bleak hopelessness that characterizes the unsaved is replaced by something that has hope. The prospect of being with Christ, as Paul said, “Which is far better.” That’s the believer’s position.
Not only that, says Paul, but the real comfort that one has concerning those that have passed away, those who were dear to you, but who were believing in the Lord Jesus Christ…the real comfort (you see, back in Verse 18, he says, “Comfort one another with these words,”) is this: He says, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with Him.” Our Savior said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And He said, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also.” He wants you with Him.
I suppose one of the nicest things in life is to discover that somebody really wants you with him or her. It’s nice, isn’t it? And conversely, one of the great disappointments in life is to be, as the old saying used to be, “included out.” When you feel that you’re not wanted…oh, that hurts, doesn’t it? But what a joy it is when someone really wants you.
Now the Savior wants you with Him. “That where I am,” said He, “there ye may be also.” Because I live, ye shall live also. And so, we have the guarantee of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus as being the firstfruits, Paul calls it, of our own experience. “Now is Christ risen from the dead,” says Paul in 1 Corinthians, “and has become the firstfruits of them who have passed away,” believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, the firstfruits of them that slept.
I suppose there isn’t anything more sublime than the realization that this life isn’t all. It isn’t everything. There is another life. There is another dimension to life, because you’ve trusted the Lord Jesus, our Savior said, “You have everlasting life, and that is not simply a matter of duration, but a matter of quality.” And so, it goes on. And after the doctor takes off his stethoscope and looks up and says to you, “He’s gone,” you know that that person is still very much alive in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Stuart Hamblin died awhile back, and I remember after he was first brought to Christ, he was talking about the hereafter. He was saying, “Well, someday they’ll say, ‘He’s dead,’ but don’t you believe it! I’ll be in the presence of the Lord and I’ll be feeling fine!” Well, bless his heart. There’s the truth of it. “Sorrow not even as others, which have no hope.” The despair, the bleak nothingness of having lost it all, is replaced by hope for the eons of eternity spent with your blessed Lord. He wants you with Him.
Now he says, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” (and I want you to notice that he says ‘if’ we believe.) If you’ve never really settled this in your own heart, please do so now, because so many of these things depend upon your own commitment to Christ.
Every now and again, I get a letter from someone who says, “I had been religious and gone to church all my life, but I had never really given myself to the Lord Jesus until the other day, after you had said so-and-so, I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. Well, that’s exactly what this is all about. If you don’t know for certain today that you belong to the Lord Jesus…if you can do so, stop what you’re doing now. One man said he pulled his car over to the side of the road and just prayed. Well, alright. That’s the way to do it. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your heart. Ask him to forgive your sins. Commit yourself to Him in faith, and taste for yourself the joy of being born again. That’s the big ‘if’ there. If we believe. If you’ve committed yourself to the Lord Jesus and you know that He died and He rose again, what then? “Even so,” says he, “them also who are asleep will God bring with Him.” The guarantee of my resurrection is Jesus’ resurrection. That’s the logic of it. He died, He rose again, and He said, “I am doing this so that you’ll know that that is what’s going to happen to you as well.”
“For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord.” Now, at different times, Paul has said, “This is my opinion.” But there are other times when he said, “This is what I got from God for you.” “This we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep, for the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” “Wherefore,” says he, “comfort one another with these words.”
Now, think about this with me just for a moment. He says, “You’re alive when the Lord Jesus comes back again.” I look heavenward every day and say, “Lord, hurry up. Come, Lord Jesus. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. I’d love to see you.” Wouldn’t you? But he says, “If you’re alive when he comes, you’re not going to get ahead of folk who died. You didn’t leave them behind, in other words, because the dead in Christ are going to rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them. So, there’s going to be a mass resurrection of believers, and in that instant, the God who originally created you is going to re-assemble your persona, and you will have a body adapted to glory, just as real as the body in which the Lord Jesus walked into the locked room where the disciples were gathered after the resurrection and didn’t know He was alive yet. He just came and was in the midst of them; He didn’t open the door, because this was a body adapted to glory. But it is a real body, and He said, “Handle me and see,” and “Do you have anything to eat here?” and He ate something. And so, it’s a body that can be touched. It’s a body that can eat. It’s a body that is alive, but it’s a body of glory. It’s adapted to the glory.
And so, in that instant, when our Lord Jesus comes again, the God who originally created you is going to have no trouble whatsoever in reassembling you and giving you that new body adapted to living in His glorious presence. What will it be? Can you imagine having a celestial body that isn’t dependent upon atmosphere, or air pressure, or temperature, or humidity, or whatever? It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? But that’s exactly what the Lord is going to do when our Savior comes again.
“This mortal must put on immortality and this corruptible must put on incorruption,” says Paul in 1 Corinthians. Let me turn to that passage and just go through it momentarily with you, to see what happens when our Lord Jesus comes again. You hear me turning the pages, don’t you? I’ve got a big Bible here and it makes a noise when you turn the pages. And so, he says, “There is that which is natural, that which is spiritual, and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. This corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Now, you’re mortal as long as you’re alive, and immortality means that you don’t face death any longer; you’re no longer threatened by death. You’re mortal. But “corruptible” means what happens after you die. You leave a dead body around and it decays. That’s “corruptible.” So, he says, “God is going to change you so that mortality,” (the threat, in other words, of physical death) “is changed, and corruptibleness,” (the threat of decay) “is gone.” So, he says, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “Oh death,” (this is the shout of the victor) “Where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. “Christ is now risen and become,” said he, “the firstfruits of them that slept. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable, but now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept. He is the evidence our Savior is alive, and He is the living evidence of what God is going to do for every one of us who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. How wonderful that is.
And so, he says, “The dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.” We’ll go on with this the next time we get together.
Father God, today, oh, may we live in the light of the hope of the coming of our Lord Jesus. I pray in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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