Death, Then What?

by Rev. Sean Finnegan on November 17, 2013
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Acts 17.11
- Bereans are not only noble-minded but courageous as well. They did not immediately accept Paul’s message about Jesus nor did they reject it out of hand. They listened, then they checked it against the Scriptures to see if it was valid.

- if you believe loved ones are in heaven and are not only aware of what you are doing but can help you, then you may pray to them and ask for help as well as credit them when good events happen

- if you believe loved ones are in purgatory you may make special offerings to the church on their behalf to shorten the time they need to suffer

- if you believe the dead are ghosts walking among us you may pay a medium to contact your dead loved one once a year on their birthday or deathday (night mares, horror movies)

if you whack your foundational belief with the hammer of scrutiny at full force two positive outcomes are possible
1. you’ll break your belief: though this can be rather alarming, it is the first step towards finding something better to base your life on
2. you’ll gain confidence in your belief: having tested it and seen it stand up to rigorous scrutiny, you now have more confidence in your belief than before and you’ll also have less fear of talking about your belief with others whom you know disagree with it

our approach to figuring out which of these 7 possibilities is correct: the Bible is our standard for testing ideas

I’m going to give you some verses that those who hold these beliefs point to for support

Now I realize this may be a very sensitive subject for you. If you have lost loved ones and believe that they have communicated with you, what I’m saying could easily shake you up. But I encourage you to be the Berean. Don’t accept what I say; don’t reject what I say; listen to it; compare it to the Scriptures; find out what is right.

Besides whatever you and I decide on this issue is not going to change the facts of the matter. If dead people are in heaven right now, then that will still be the case whether we believe it or not. If they are asleep then praying to them all day will not make a lick of difference.

What Happens at Death?
1. Heaven (staring at God, become a star, become an angel, watch over relatives): Luke 16.19-31; 23.43; John 14.1-3; Philippians 1.23; 2 Corinthians 5.8; Revelation 6.9-11

2. Hell (torture in fire forever): Luke 16.19-31; Matthew 25.46; Revelation 14.11; 20.10

3. Purgatory (tortured in fire until sins are purged): Luke 16.19-31; 1 Corinthians 15.29 ; 1 Peter 3.19; 4.6; 2 Maccabees 12.43-45

4. Ghosts (live on earth among us without a body, possibly able to interact or possess): Matthew 14.29; Luke 24.37; 1 Samuel 28.3-25; Acts 12.15

5. Reincarnation (at death one’s memory is wiped and they are reborn into another organism): Job 1.20-21; Ecclesiastes 1.9; Jeremiah 1.4-5; Malachi 4.5; Matthew 11.13-14; John 9.1-3; Romans 9.11-13

6. Gone (their thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc. are gone forever): Ecclesiastes 9.5; 9.10; Psalm 146.4

7. Sleep (unconscious but able to be resurrected): Deuteronomy 31.16; 2 Samuel 7.12; 1 Kings 1.21; 2.10; 11.21; 11.43; 14.20; 14.31; 15.8; 15.24; 16.6; 16.28; 22.40; 22.50; 2 Kings 8.24; 10.35; 13.9; 13.13; 14.16; 14.22; 14.29; 15.7; 15.22; 15.38; 16.20 ; 20.21; 21.18; 22.20; 24.6; 2 Chronicles 9.31; 12.16; 14.1; 16.13; 21.1; 26.2; 26.23; 27.9; 28.27; 32.33; 33.20; Job 3.11-13; 7.21; 14.12-15; Ecclesiastes 3.19-20; 9.5-6; 9.10; Psalm 6.4-5; 13.3; 30.9; 31.17; 49.12; 88.10-13; 115.17; 146.4; Isaiah 26.19; 38.17-19; Daniel 12.2; Matthew 27.52; John 5.28-29; John 6.39-54; John 11.11-14; Acts 2.34; 7.60; 13.36; 1 Corinthians 11.29-30; 15.6; 15.17-23; 15.51-55; Ephesians 5.14; 1 Thessalonians 4.13-17; 5.9-10; 2 Peter 3.3-4; Revelation 20.4-6

John 5.26-29
26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;
27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

The dead are in their tombs asleep. However, when they hear his voice, they will awaken. This is resurrection.
John 6.38-44, 54
38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."
42 They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven '?"
43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves.
44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
...54 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Four times over Jesus clearly teaches that he will raise the dead on the last day not the day of their death.

time line: need to think temporally rather than spatially (triple-decker heaven, earth, hell is wrong)
John 11.11-27, 43-44
11 This He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep."
12 The disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."
13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.
14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead,
15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him."
16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, so that we may die with Him."
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.
18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off;
19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.
20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house.
21 Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
22 "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."
23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world."
… 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."
44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

When Jesus spoke of Lazarus’ death, he said he was asleep and that he was going to awaken him, and yet he was really talking about death and resurrection. Did Jesus tear Lazarus away from bliss in heaven to return to this old earth? No, he brought him back to life—woke him up!

Bodies, why is it that people always talk of the dead as bodies rather than people? On the news they don’t say, “A fifty year old man was found dead yesterday” rather they say “the body of a fifty year old man was found yesterday.” Or at a funeral they say, “where do you want to bury the body?” This is not how they talk in the Bible.
John 20.11-18
11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;
12 and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.
13 And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.

Mary looked for Jesus, not merely his body. Jesus clearly says he had not gone to the Father in death. If Jesus did not go to heaven at death, then why should we think we will?

“No one has ascended into heaven” –Jesus (John 3.13)

Why should there be a resurrection of the dead if no one is really dead?

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