Can I Be Certain Of Life After Death?
March 5, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
We are beginning a new series today. Over the next seven weeks, we will examine the I AM statements of Jesus through the Gospel of John. And today we are beginning with one that is familiar to you, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” The title of the message today is this, “Can I Be Certain Of Life After Death?” Can I be certain of life after death?
George W. Bush represented the U.S. many years ago at the funeral of a former Soviet Union leader by the name of Leonid Bresnev. He witnessed an act against the government that he had never seen before by his wife, Bresnev’s widow as she stood at the tomb at the grave, motionless. She stood by the side of the casket. She never uttered a sound. She never moved until the soldiers made their way over to close the casket. And when one of the soldier’s hands touched the lid, she did the most absurd civil act of disobedience ever witnessed by that government. She reached over into the casket and she made the sign of the cross on Bresnev’s chest.
In the epicenter of atheism, the Soviet Union, in a man who propagated unbelief in God, she hoped in her heart that he was wrong. She hoped that there was more to life than this and she believed that possibly there could be life after death.
Friends, I would submit to you that every human being has that same hope. Amen? I would even submit to you that atheists secretly hope that they are wrong, that there is life after death.
And so what I want to do for you today is two-fold. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ today, I want to give you hope to know that one day our faith will be sight. But for those who are here today and you are unsure of your salvation, I want to offer you hope from this text as Jesus raises a man from the dead, to give you hope that if you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you have nothing to fear.
If you have your Bibles and I hope you do, turn with me to John Chapter 11. John Chapter 11 and Verse 1, we will begin. And when you are there, say “Word.” Thank you, Brother. The Word of the Lord.
“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ When Jesus hear it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this, He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.’”
Mary, the one who anointed Jesus with ointment and her sister, Martha, send Jesus a message. The one you love, Lazarus, is ill. He is on the verge of death. We want you to know this. And I want you to see in this text, if you are taking notes right out the gate, I want you to notice the sovereignty of God over the situation. I want you to notice the sovereignty of God over the situation. Martha and Mary are close friends of Jesus. And Mary doesn’t ask Jesus to come to Judea because of fear that He may be stoned or persecuted. Remember, they are trying to kill Jesus at this point. She simply tells Jesus what is happening to her brother.
No Jesus, you need to hurry up because he is on the verge of death. Why in the world would you wait two days longer? Jesus, you need to get a move on. Let’s go, Jesus, let’s go.
And the text says that Jesus, when He heard the news doesn’t rush to her immediately. He actually waits longer.
I want you to see something in this text right out the gate. Jesus is in full control of this situation. Jesus purposely waits, He says, so that the glory of God may be displayed in this man.
Look at Verse 11. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He meant he was taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may died with Him.’”
Just a side bar about Thomas. Thomas has a bad rap by being a man who doubted Jesus. This is not the words of a man who doubted a man named Jesus. This is the words of a man who is courageously following his Master. He is saying, If you are going to go die, I am first to follow. That is another sermon for another day.
But anyway, Jesus says, let’s go back to Judea. I am glad that this man has died for your sake so that the glory of God may be displayed to you.
Now, why does Jesus wait until the fourth day to go back to Judea? According to the Jewish Talmud, in the book of Genesis Kaba, Chapter 100 Verse 7, the Jews believed that the soul of a man or a woman hovered over the body, follow this, for three days, which is why they mourned in that tradition for three days. They believed the soul still hovered over the body. On the fourth day, the soul departed. Jesus is purposely waiting until the fourth day to prove to everyone at the funeral procession that this is something only God could have done. He doesn’t want them to believe this is by happenstance or this just happened. He wants them to be certain that Jesus is God.
It also gives us a picture into the omniscience of Christ. Jesus is able to peer into the future and tell the disciples that this man is dead. Remember, the news report only said that he was sick. Jesus tells the disciples, he is not taking a siesta here. This man is…look at the text…dead.
Once again, let me remind you, Jesus is in full control of this situation. Write this down if you are taking notes. There are no accidents in the economy of God. Do you believe that? There are no accidents in the economy of God. God is the One who works all things together for your good and His glory. There are no accidents in the economy of God. Jesus knows exactly what is happening.
And what Jesus uses, just like God always does is, He uses this element of suffering, of pain, of trial, of tribulation in our life to get our attention. That is what He always uses.
In fact, when God is about to apply pressure to our life to get out attention, the divine instrument He always chooses as He gets ready to do surgery on our soul, is suffering.
I love what the Pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Michigan said, Dr. William Coltman. He said, “Until I learned to trust, I never learned to pray. And I did not learn to fully trust until sorrows came my way. Until I felt my weakness, His strength I never knew, nor dreamed till I was stricken that He could see me through. Who deepest drinks of sorrow, drinks deepest too of grace. He sends the storm so He Himself can be our hiding place. His heart that seeks our highest good knows well when things annoy. We would not long for heaven if earth held only joy. And so in times of trial or grief realize that you are enrolled in the school of Christ. And He has just given you a great opportunity to learn more about His all-sufficiency.” Can anyone “amen” that? I have been enrolled in that school before.
So what we see in the text is that Jesus displays the sovereignty of God over the situation. Secondly, write it down if you are taking notes, Jesus also shows us that we can be certain of our future. He shows us the certainty of our future. Verse 17. “When Jesus same, He found Lazarus had already been put in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You have been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.’”
Martha greets Jesus as He approaches on the fourth day and says to Him something pretty amazing. It is a display of her faith. She says, “Jesus, if You would have been here, this wouldn’t have happened.” And so you have to commend her for her faith in Jesus. But it shows that she has a misunderstanding of the power of Jesus because she believed that Jesus needed to be there to heal him. This is further displayed in Mary’s response, as we will see later in the text in Verse 39, when Mary says to Jesus, ‘Lord, his body is smelling. He has an odor. He is decomposing.’
And in essence, what they are saying to Jesus is, Jesus, it is too late. You missed it. But Jesus has another response that really catches them off guard. Look at Verse 23. “Your brother will rise again.’ Mary said to Him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, ad everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She answered Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’”
Friends, what Jesus is showing us here when He says this phrase, “I AM the resurrection and the life,” a great phrase to memorize, a great phrase to underline in your Bible. He is saying, Not only will I raise you from the dead on that day, but I will give you life, eternal life abundantly today. You will experience a taste of heaven today. You don’t have to wait until the end of your life to be injected into the spiritual by and by. When you put your faith in Me, I will, as Ephesians 1 says, give you the resurrection power today.”
And so what we see in this text is something really interesting. Jesus IS what He provides. He IS what He provides. What do you mean, Pastor? Jesus said earlier, I can give you the Bread of Heaven. Remember the feeding of the 5,000. He multiplies the bread and He distributes the bread. But then a few moments after that, He stands up and He says, “But I AM the bread of life.” Jesus goes to a blind man and gives him Light, living in darkness for so many years and then a few moments later, what does Jesus say? But I AM the Light of the world.
Jesus not only shows the disciples the right way to walk based on the Torah or the Scripture which is the word “Way” in Hebrew. Jesus gets up in front of the disciples and He says, “But I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.”
And on this occasion, He goes to Martha and Mary and He says, Hey, listen, I am going to raise your brother on the last day. I am going to resurrect him. He is going to be raised from the dead in just a few moments. But by the way, I AM the resurrection and the Life.
I love this about Jesus. Jesus IS and gives simultaneously. He IS and gives simultaneously. And it should be an encouragement to us to have hope in Jesus Christ.
That is why Jesus follows it up by saying, “Mary, do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life?” It is a question we all must answer. It is the question that is going to determine where your soul will rest for eternity.
Our son, Rig, who is six years old, has a tender heart. He takes after his Mother. And he is wrestling at six years old with salvation. He is trying to understand the gospel. And we are already seeing God’s grace in his life. He has a love for the Word of God. He has a love to read the Word every single night. And recently he came home and they had talked about in our children’s program how you had to die, but then if you put your faith in Jesus, you will live forever. Well, he came home and he was just emotionally a wreck. I mean, just crying the whole way home. And we said, Rig, what is wrong? And he says, “Daddy, I want to go see Jesus. I want to put my faith in Jesus, but I don’t want to die.” You have to appreciate his tender heart. He is like most of us. I mean who really wants to die? Right? And he is wrestling with this in his mind. And I think what happens in his mind is, he understands that death is the end or rationalizing that death is the end. I told him, Son, listen, for the believer in Jesus Christ, death is never the end, it is the beginning. And I comforted him with this verse, Jesus said, Whoever believes in Me will not die but will live forever.
Friends, do you believe that? Every single person in here individually has to answer that question. Jesus said, Do you believe? It shows us that Jesus gives us a certainty of the future. He displays the sovereignty of God over the situation. But then it is taking a shift in this text and we really get a glimpse into the humanity of Jesus. We get a glimpse into the humanity of Jesus.
Folks, Jesus is 100% God but He is 100% man simultaneously at the same time. And so notice the humanity of Jesus. Look at Verse 32. “Now when Mary came to Jesus and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You have been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved…circle that phrase…in His spirit and greatly troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not He who opened the yes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?’” And they were right! They are starting to get it.
Mary comes to Jesus and like her sister, Martha earlier, says the exact same thing, displaying faith. Jesus, if You had only been here, then none of this would have happened. The verb that is important for us to understand is that verb “deeply moved.” It is the same way to translate the word as to shutter. It is to be moved deep in our emotions. It means to be visibly shaken over something. The Greeks use this phrase to describe this word, in a word picture of a horse snorting. That is what that word “deeply moved” means. It was the picture of a horse snorting. And so we almost get the idea if we were there, Jesus would have gasped. He would have exhaled all the air out of his body. And then He sees Mary weeping and He sees the crowd weeping and the text says that Jesus Himself wept. Aren’t you glad we serve a God who can empathize with our emotions? He is not a distant God. He is a God that is like us in every way, yet without sin. He understands your grief. He understands your pain. He understands the challenges we face. Aren’t you glad we service that God?
Now the weeping of Jesus in Verse 37 is not the same weeping in English as we see in Verse 35. There are actually to different Greek words. In Verse 35, we see Mary and the crowd weeping and that is a different kind of weeping. That is a wailing that you would normally see at a Jewish funeral. They are screaming. They are shouting, which would normally happen. Jesus, on the other hand, that word “weeping” is to shed a tear. Jesus is obviously visibly shaken, but He is shedding a tear.
Now Jesus, why are You crying? And we know why Jesus is not crying. He is not crying over the death of Lazarus. We know that. Don’t misunderstand the text here. And the reason Jesus is not crying over the death of Lazarus is because He is about to raise Him from the dead. He knows that. So why is He crying? I think Jesus is crying because He looks at the depravity around Him and He sees that the people have misunderstood death to be the end and not the beginning. I think the reason Jesus could be crying is because He is brought front and center to the effects of sin and death and the dominion of Satan. I think Jesus could even be crying because He knows that He has to bring Lazarus back from the dead, heading to a place of glory, back into a depraved world! And it shows us that we serve a God who sympathizes with us, who empathizes with us.
Now scholars are divided over whether the sisters demonstrated faith or displayed doubt. And if you look at that phrase where they say, Lord, if You had only been here, you really have the idea of translating it two different ways. They could have been faithful or they could have really criticized Jesus in a sense for not coming. You have to wrap your mind around this. They know that Jesus has already done similar miracles on three other occasions. They know that Jesus healed the blind man who was born blind from birth, a Messianic miraculous miracle. They know that. They know that Jesus has raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, similar miracle, and they know that Jesus healed the official’s son from a distance to the Capernaum region. They know that! And Jesus knew none of those people and He knows Lazarus. This is the one You love! And so when they say to Jesus, Lord, if You only had been here, things would have been different.
Have you ever had one of those Mary and Martha moments before? Be careful throwing stones at these ladies, because we do that all the time, right? Lord, if You would have just done something different in my life, none of this would have happened, right? Lord, if I wouldn’t have been at that place at that time, then this accident wouldn’t have taken place. Lord, if You would have just intervened just a moment earlier, this person wouldn’t have had to die.
But that is contradictory to the nature of God. Because, friends, if Jesus Christ is Lord, He is Lord of all which means that He is in control of all things. Surely God knew about that tragedy in your life. Surely God knew about that despair in your life. And aren’t you glad that He works all of that together for His glory? You see, God is not like the open theists say, a passenger in the vehicle with us sitting next to us. And He is watching event unfold as we are. That is what the open theists say. God doesn’t predict the future and God doesn’t predestine things to happen, God actually sees events unfold like you and He is trying to correct the right as it is going on. I feel sorry for those men and woman who believe that. Apparently, they haven’t read the Bible and you don’t have to look far to see it. Romans 8:28, “For God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, the first born among many brothers”
Friends, there are no accidents in the economy of God. God is in full control of your life. He knows your future better than you know your own past and He is working everything out for your good and His glory. He is the sovereign Lord who enacts not reacts. Aren’t you glad? He is the sovereign Lord who creates all things for His glory.
And so we see in this text that not only is Jesus all man, the humanity of Jesus, Jesus is about to display His divinity in raising this man from the dead, only something God can do. So we see the sovereignty of the situation, the certainty of our future, the humanity of Jesus. And finally, the divinity of Jesus.
Verse 38, “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.” Now see if you understand what is going on here. Don’t miss that. Don’t gloss over what I just read.
“Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent Me.’ When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ The man who had died came out, his hands ad feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind this man, an let him go.’”
The key phrase here is…watch this…deeply moved at the beginning of this section. You see it in Verse 38, “Then Jesus, deeply moved again.” Now why in the world is Jesus deeply moved again. He has already been deeply moved when He saw the crying of Mary and the crowd. But once again, when He gets to the tomb, He is deeply moved. And friends, I want to submit to you…picture this…Jesus sees three things the text says: a tomb, a cave and a stone that has been rolled in front of the cave. And I believe what Jesus is getting is a glimpse of His own death, burial and the grave that He is about to endure. And in His humanity, He is moved again. It is a picture of what He is about to endure for our sins on the cross, being placed in the grave.
I want you to imagine the scene, if you were there at that time. Jesus, before all the crowd begins to pray openly and the reason He prays openly is He wants them to know without a shadow of a doubt that He is God. He prays openly and then He yells to Lazarus from the tomb, “Lazarus, come forth!” One person said thank God He used the term “Lazarus.” If not, all the dead people in the region would have rose from the dead.
He says, “Move the stone away.” If you are in the crowd, you are peering into the darkness. You are looking into that cave right there. And all of a sudden, the unthinkable happens. As you are looking into the cave, that mummy-like figure begins to move. That lifeless body begins to sit up on that stone. Now he is standing erect! And now he begins to hobble out of the tomb! Can you picture it now? The crying has been turned into laughing. The weeping has been turned into joy. HE IS ALIVE! Can you believe it?
Friends, the funeral procession has now turned into a party. The funeral has turned into a festival. People are excited now and they say, this is something only God could do! And they begin to worship Jesus. What an amazing picture of how God turns us from death to life.
If you ever want to know what Ephesians 2:1-3 looks like and you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, look to this chapter.
You see, Lazarus, a dead man, can’t raise himself. If Jesus doesn’t call him forth, he remains dead in the cave. Lazarus has to react to God acting! That is what happened when you got saved. God spoke and called your name and you came out of the darkness into light. That is what happened.
So, Robby, how do we apply this text today. Let me give you two walking points. Here is the first one, two walking points…how do we apply this text to our life? The first one is this: Faith in Christ overcomes grief. Faith in Christ overcomes grief, even though…now let me just be honest with you for a second…even though we know that God works all things together for His good, it is still tough to endure the loss of a loved one. Amen? And even though people give us encouraging words along the way at funerals like this, hey, praise the Lord. Now Mike is in heaven with Jesus. That doesn’t make it any easier, right? Man, he suffered all his life. Now he has that new resurrected body, that glorified body. Aren’t you glad? Well, that is true, but it doesn’t make it any easier for us.
So how do we deal with grief? As I thought about this, I realized that strong faith does not immunize us from grief. Write that down. Strong faith does not immunize a Christian from grief. But it does give us hope to overcome. Amen? It does give us hope to know that this world is not all there is.
You see, for a Christian, we should respond differently to death than unbelievers. You would agree with that. And Paul told those new believers at Thessalonica in Chapter 1…I mean, Chapter 4 Verse 13 of I Thessalonians when he said, “We do not want you to be uninformed, Brothers, about those who have fallen asleep.” And these are not people taking a siesta, these are people who have died. “That you may not grieve as others who do not have hope. We have hope as Christians.”
Now one commentator pointed out something interesting that I thought was important to share. He said, “Notice what Jesus doesn’t say to Martha after He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Notice what He doesn’t say. He doesn’t say after His presentation of the gospel and hope for the future, He doesn’t say, Now, Martha, does that make you feel any better? Martha, you are going to get back to your old optimistic self now that you know that. Is that what Jesus says? Martha, does that lift your spirits up now that you know this truth? He doesn’t say that. According to this commentator, what He says is that according to Jesus it was not how she felt that was important but it was what she believed that was important. He said, “Martha, do you believe in the resurrection and the life? Do you believe I am the resurrection and the life?”
Jesus shows us that faith is our only hope in overcoming grief. It is our only hope. And you and I would agree that sometimes it is easier to put our faith in God’s future work, that He will work things out for the good, rather than our present struggles, right? It is easier to say, “Yeah, if I ever get in trouble, I am going to believe that God is working it together for good.” But we are in the midst of a trial and tribulation in our life, trials and tribulations. It is harder to believe that.
You know, I think back to my own life. There was nobody in my family or around who knew me in the years of 1999 to 2003 who ever thought that God could work anything in my life together for the good. No one. My parents, who go to our church. They would never say that. My sister wouldn’t say that. In fact, if you would have looked at my life, you thought there was no way I would live. I had a heavy drug addiction, alcohol addiction. I had eight friends who died. Six went to prison. I robbed my own family of $15,000. I went to two rehab treatments. I had $180 a day heroin and cocaine addiction. I spent $26,000 in three months on drugs, partying. There is no way anyone would have said God could have ever worked this thing out for His good.
But you know, God was working behind the scenes in a desperate situation, much like He probably worked in your life. And what God did is, He had to get me to the place that I looked to Him and Him alone. You see, if I had any out, I would have taken it. That is what an addict does. We always take the last out. But I had cashed all my spiritual checks. I was physically bankrupt and spiritually bankrupt. And I needed a miracle.
And friends, God allowed me to go so low in my life where the only place I could look was up to Him. You see, that is what God does with you. He gets you to the place with trials and tribulations, with pain and suffering, so that He gets your attention. You are probably saying, why can’t we get through this, God? Why am I enduring this trial? Why are we not past this illness? Why all this financial stress? Why have we not overcome this? And what God is saying, “Do I have your attention yet?”
Let me ask you a personal question, Brother or Sister. If you re in the midst of a trial, has God got your attention? You better believe it. And what He does is, He applies that divine instrument of suffering in order to get our attention. He uses a desperate situation to display His sovereignty. For some of you, what He is trying to tell you is, there was once a time when you were committed to coming to church. You faithfully attended. You brought your family. You were consistent. You were committed. But something happened along the way and I don’t know what it is, but you do and God does. And maybe God is calling you to put your faith and trust back in Him completely, to be more consistent. Maybe God is calling you to surrender in an area of your life that maybe you have surrendered but you have given ground back to the enemy now.
Friends, you have to realize, nothing that happens in this world apart from the sovereignty of God. Allan Redpath said it best. “There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at that moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes to Him and as I accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me. No trial will ever disarm me. No circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. This is the rest of victory.”
There are no accidents in the economy of God.
Secondly, not only should we put our faith in Christ to overcome our grief. Secondly, we need to adopt a long view and not a life view.
What are you talking about, Robby? A life view views this world and this existence as all there is. And so if you think that this world is your home and that is all you have, then you will sin and live without any consequences. Lets eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Lets live it up. Or as the young people say, Yolo. You only live once. That is bad theology, by the way. But if there is no tomorrow, I mean, think about it. Why even come to church? Why worship Jesus? Why give to the Lord? Why serve in causes? Why go overseas with the gospel? If this world is all there is, who cares? That is a life view.
A long view is different because you look past life to eternity. You see, a long view realizes that this world is not our home, that we were created for another home and that God gave us a passport to come to this earth. And in essence, we are green card holders of earth. But we are citizens of heaven, as Paul says. And we are just passing through this world. In essence, this world…,don’t miss this…is a training ground for the next world. And depending on where your perspective is determines everything. Your world view determines everything.
Let me give you an example. Take death. You see, the way you view a life view or a life through a life view or a long view, will determine how you view death. I love what George Bernard Shaw said. He says, “The statistics are really quite impressive about death. One, out of every one person, dies.” Everybody is going to die. And the question is not, where are you going to cease to exist? The question is, where are you moving addresses to? Because everyone continues to live, you just change addresses. You see, if you have a life view, then you view death as the end. If you have a long view, you view death as the beginning.
For example, if your Dad who is very old and ill goes to sleep tonight and wakes up tomorrow, then what do you do? You rejoice. Praise God! He made it another day. But if you are a Christian and your Father is a Christian and you know you have a long view of life, if he goes to bed tonight and he doesn’t wake up, what do you do? You rejoice even more. Do you miss him? Absolutely. But you rejoice even more because he is in heaven with Jesus.
Friends, eternity is forever. And it is not that you cease to exist, you just change addresses. You see, you shouldn’t be concerned about when you will die or how long you will live. You should be concerned about where you will land. You either going to be like the Jefferson’s and move on up to heaven, right? To the ivory palace of heaven? Or you are going to move down into the abyss to a place called hell which is a Christless eternity.
I was sharing this truth with a man one time, many years ago. I share with him the urgency of putting his faith in Jesus Christ today. I said, “Brother, you don’t know what tomorrow holds. You need to put your faith in Christ today to avoid hell.” Well, he pushed back and said, “Robby, I don’t believe in hell.” He said, “I just think that when we die, man just ceases to exist. We came from dust and we return to dust and we just cease to exist. This life is all there is.
I said, “That is interesting.” Now here is a side note, whenever someone tells me some crazy, wacky, off the wall theological insight that they created in their own mind, the best response is, that is interesting. Where did you learn that from? Always works. I have used this on the airplane hundreds of times. And what this man said to me when I said, that is interesting, where did you learn this from? You don’t say, that is the craziest idea around. That is ridiculous. That wouldn’t work.
But you say, that is interesting. Where did you learn that from? Do you know what he told me? He said, “Well, I just made that up in my mind. I can’t understand how a good God will allow people to go to hell. I just can’t understand that,.”
I said, well, that is interesting because I don’t know about you, but I would rather put my faith and trust in the Bible, a book that has 66 different books, written by 40 different authors, written on three different continents, translated in three different languages over 1500 years, all coinciding together to prove one redemptive plan about One Man who will come into the world to save you from your sin. I don’t know about you, but I would rather put my faith in that Book, with all due respect, than something you conjured up in your mind. It went south after that, if you can imagine. It just kind of went off the deep end. And he didn’t say a word to me. And then I followed up with this. I said, “Brother, let me ask you a serious question. Think about this. If you are right and we cease to exist and I am wrong, then at the end of our life, we both poof into thin air and we are gone. And the only difference between you and me is that I wasted my life upon religion and you wasted your life on college football or outdoor activities or Hollywood or whatever else you enjoyed while you were here. We just cease to exist. We just devote our time in different things.
However, if I am right and you are wrong, I will spend eternity in heaven and my friend, you will spend eternity in hell. And then I said this: Eternity is too long to be wrong!
You know, I am speaking to somebody today, I know I am. You know how I know? Because many years ago, I was like you. I would come to church service on Easter Sunday and I would get all excited to come. I would dress up. I would hear a great encouraging word. I would go home and I would live the way I left.
But there was a day in 2002 when all that changed. For the first time, I heard that voice of the Galilean Rabbi named Jesus call my name and I put my faith in Him. And friends, for some of you today, he is calling you. He is calling you out of darkness into the light. Friends, for some of you today, He is calling you. He is calling you out of death into life. And for some of you, He is calling you as Christians to begin to live the abundant life.
So let me ask you as we close, one simple question. I want you to think about this. If Jesus Christ is calling you today, will you come? You either come when He calls or you don’t come at all. You either come when He calls or you don’t come at all.