Is there Life After Death?

The Result of Sin is Death

Death would never have come into the world if it had not been for sin. God told Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 2:16-17 the following words:

“And the LORD God Commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Spiritual Death and Physical Death

Adam and Eve died spiritually, not physically, the day they disobeyed God’s command. Later, they died physically. Physical death came as a result of sin, and followed spiritual death which came immediately from the sin that was committed.

James 1:15 tells us the following words: “…and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

You can see from this that, “the wages of sin is death.” However, it is wonderful that God tells us in the same verse that Jesus can cancel the effects of sin, death, and give us everlasting life. Jesus who died for our sins, did not stay in the grave. He came alive physically and bodily, and came out of that tomb. Because Jesus was resurrected, He gained the victory over death and the grave for us.

Therefore, when we are saved, when we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, God gives us everlasting life right then. We immediately begin living spiritually, and will never die spiritually. Although the Christian may die physically, he never dies spiritually. His body will be resurrected and glorified so that both body and soul will live on forever and ever.

A Temporary State of Sleep for Christians

Jesus taught us that physical death for the Christian is only a state of sleep. We simply fall asleep in Jesus, when we die physically. Then our soul goes immediately into the presence of God. Later, Jesus will resurrect our bodies from the grave, will make them perfect and glorified, and will let our soul from Heaven re-enter that perfected and glorified body. Then body and soul will go sweeping up into the presence of Jesus to be with Him forever.

It is a beautiful thing that Jesus taught us: for the Christian, death is only a “temporary” sleep. For this teaching, read John 11:11-14.

Death for the Unsaved?

Jesus teaches us, in Luke 16:19-24, that, for the unsaved person, (one who has never repented of his sins and has never accepted Jesus as his personal Savior) death is a horrible experience in which the soul leaves the body, when the body dies, and plunges directly into Hell, and into all of the eternal, conscious torments.

The Bible also teaches us that the unsaved people who die will have a resurrection of their bodies also. However, their bodies will not be perfected and glorified bodies like the resurrected bodies of Christians. Their bodies will still be rotting and decaying and sick and painful and growing older and more infirmed all the time. Their souls will be dragged out of Hell and placed into that kind of resurrected body.

Then body and soul will be cast back into Hell to live there forever–the miserable and unhappy and guilty soul trapped in a body that is always dying but can never die, that is always growing more imperfect but can never be healed, that is always growing older and weaker but can never be made young again. Genesis 3:23-24 is as follows:

“Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

You can see from this that God did not want Adam and Eve, after they had already sinned and had become susceptible to sickness and to pain and to old age, to put forth their hand and eat from the tree of life (which could not give them spiritual life but could make them live on forever physically) and live forever trapped in a body that would always be growing sicker and older and weaker and more painful, and yet never die. This is what happens to people who die unsaved, and are resurrected in due time with souls to re-enter their imperfect, rotting, resurrected bodies, and body and soul to be cast into Hell. This is what happens as indicated in Revelation 20:13-15:

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hell
were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

In these verses God is talking about people who have died, still unsaved, still without Christ, because God mentions in verse 15 above their names were not found written “in the book of life.”

You can see in verse 13 that Hell is going to deliver up the souls of those who had died without Christ, and death is going to deliver up the bodies of those who have died without Christ. Then, of course, the unsaved soul would be placed once again in the old body, still imperfect, still rotting, still sick and in pain, still growing older and weaker.

If you put together this passage in Revelation with that passage mentioned above from Genesis, and compare what could have happened to Adam and Eve if God had not protected them, after they had sinned, from eating of the tree of life, along with what will happen to the unsaved people, according to the passage in Revelation as mentioned above, when their bodies are resurrected, you can see very clearly that unsaved people cannot wait until it is too late to take Jesus as their Savior. Death is certain, but our salvation is also certain if we will simply trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 tells us that when Jesus returns for His church He will bring with Him those “which sleep in Jesus.” I Corinthians 15:51 tells us: “We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed.” Additionally, in John 11:11 Jesus spoke of Lazarus as “sleeping” and said to His disciples, “…but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.”

Absent From The Body, Present With the Lord

Thus we see that the Bible pictures death for the Christian as a type of “sleep.” Yet we also know from II Corinthians 5:8,9 that, “…to be absent from the body” is “…to be present with the Lord.” The soul of the believer goes immediately to be with the Lord upon death.

The Bible further teaches us that when the Lord comes for His church in the Rapture that we will be given new bodies that will be incorruptible like His (I Corinthians 15:53-57).

In Philippians 3:21 we read, “Who (Jesus) shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the workings whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Additionally, in I John 3:2 we read, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”

A Body Raised in God’s Glory

These verses tell us that those of us who die having trusted Christ as our personal Savior, will be given bodies exactly like that of the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be a body that is not subject to disease and death any longer. It will be in all points perfect as the Lord Jesus Christ’s body is also perfect. We further know from II Corinthians 5:8 that a Christian immediately upon his death, goes into the presence of the Lord.

It should be noted, that the Christian will not receive his body until the time of the Rapture. Those Christians who die before the Rapture, must wait until the Lord comes in the clouds to call His church. At that point, those who have died in Christ, will have their bodies resurrected and they will be changed and united with their soul once again. It is at this point that we will receive our glorified bodies.

Concerning our memory of the affairs of this life while we are in Heaven with the Lord, though I cannot be dogmatic, it is my personal belief that once we enter into eternity with the Lord, which is at the conclusion of the millennial reign, that the things of this life, with all the tragedies and sorrow and suffering will be permanently erased from our minds. Therefore, we simply will not have any remembrance of the affairs, the struggles, the sufferings, and heartaches of this life.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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