we really live after we die?
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a man die shall he live again? All the days of my appointed
time will I wait till my change come." Job 14:14
"Our Savior Jesus Christ...hath abolished death and brought
life [everlasting] and immortality to light through the Gospel."
2 Tim. 1:10
is a longing hope within men that death does not end all existence.
There is an undefined hope that, somehow and somewhere, the
life now begun will have a continuation. In some this hope turns
to fear. Realizing their unworthiness of a future of pleasure,
many fear a future of woe; and the more they dread it for themselves
and others the more they believe in it.
This undefined hope of a future life and its counterpart, fear,
doubtless had their origin in the Lord's condemnation of the
serpent after Adam's fall into sin and death, that eventually
the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. This
was no doubt understood to mean that at least a portion of the
Adamic family would finally triumph over Satan, and over sin
and death, into which he had inveigled them. No doubt God encouraged
such a hope, even though but vaguely, speaking to and through
Noah, and through Enoch who prophesied, "Behold the Lord
cometh with ten thousand of his saints." But the gospel
(the good tidings) of a salvation from death, to be offered
to all mankind in God's due time, seems to have been first clearly
stated to Abraham. The Apostle declares: "The gospel was
preached before to Abraham--saying, 'In thy seed shall all the
families of the earth be blessed.'" This at least was the
basis of the Jewish hope of a resurrection; for since many of
the families of the earth were dead and dying, the promised
blessing of all implied a future life. And when, centuries after,
Israel was scattered among the nations at the time of the Babylonian
captivity, they undoubtedly carried fragments of God's promises
and their hopes everywhere they went.
Sure it is, that whether it came as a result of an admixture
of Jewish thought, or because hope is an element of man's nature,
or both, the whole world believes in a future life, and almost
all believe that it will be everlasting. This the Apostle designates,
"The earnest expectation of the creature"-- the groaning
creation. But such hopes are not proofs of the doctrine; and
the Old Testament promises, made to the Jews, are too vague
to constitute a groundwork for a clear faith, much less for
a "dogmatic theology," on this subject.
It is not until we find, in the New Testament, the clear, positive
statements of our Lord, and afterwards the equally clear statements
of the apostles on this momentous subject of Everlasting Life
that we begin to exchange vague hopes for positive convictions.
In their words we not only have positive statements to the effect
that the possibilities of a future life have been provided for
all, but the philosophy of the fact and how it is to be attained
and maintained are set forth there as nowhere else.
Many have not noticed these points, and hence are "weak
in faith." Let us see what this philosophy is, and be more
assured than ever that future life, everlasting life, is by
our great wise Creator's provision made a possibility for every
member of the human family.
Beginning at the foundation of this New Testament assurance
of Life Everlasting, we find to our astonishment that it first
of all admonishes us that in and of ourselves we have nothing
which would give us any hope of everlasting life--that the life
of our race was forfeited by the disobedience of our father
Adam; that although he was created perfect and was adapted to
live forever, his sin not only brought to him the wages of sin--death--but
that his children were born in a dying condition, inheritors
of the dying influences. God's law, like himself, is perfect,
and so was his creature (Adam) before he sinned; for of God
it is written, "His work is perfect." And God through
his law approves only that which is perfect, and condemns to
destruction everything imperfect. Hence the race of Adam, "born
in sin and shapen in iniquity," has no hope of everlasting
life except upon the conditions held out in the New Testament
and called The Gospel--the good tidings, that a way back from
the fall, to perfection, to divine favor and everlasting life,
has been opened up through Christ and for all of Adam's family
who will avail themselves of it.
The key-note of this hope of reconciliation to God, and thus
to a fresh hope of life everlasting, is found in the statements
(1) that "Christ died for our sins" and (2) that he
"rose again for our justification"; for "the
man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price]
for all." Adam and his race, which when he sinned was yet
in him and shared his sentence naturally, have been "redeemed
[bought] by the precious blood [death] of Christ." 1 Pet.
But although the Lord's provision is abundant for all, it is
not applicable to any except on certain conditions; namely,
(1) that they accept Christ as their Redeemer; and (2) that
they strive to avoid sin and to thenceforth live in harmony
with God and righteousness. Hence we are told that "Eternal
Life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
(Rom. 6:23) The following Scriptural statements are very clear
on this subject:
"He that hath the Son hath life [a right or privilege or
grant of life as God's gift]; but he that hath not the Son shall
not see [perfect] life." John 3:36; 1 John 5:12
None can obtain everlasting life except from Christ the Redeemer
and appointed Life-giver; and the truth which brings to us the
privilege of manifesting faith and obedience, and thus "laying
hold on eternal life," is called the "water of life"
and the "bread of life." John 4:14; 6:40,54
This everlasting life will be granted only to those who, when
they learn of it and the terms upon which it will be granted
as a gift, seek for it, by living according to the spirit of
holiness. They shall reap it as a gift-reward. Rom. 6:23; Gal.
To gain this everlasting life we must become the Lord's "sheep"
and follow the voice, the instructions, of the Shepherd. John
The gift of everlasting life will not be forced upon any. On
the contrary, it must be desired and sought and laid hold upon
by all who would gain it. 1 Tim. 6:12,19
It is thus a hope, rather than the real life, that God gives
us now: the hope that we may ultimately attain it, because God
has provided a way by which he can be just and yet be the justifier
of all truly believing in and accepting Christ.
By God's grace our Lord Jesus not only bought us by the sacrifice
of his life for ours, but he became our great High Priest, and
as such he is now the "author [source] of eternal salvation
to all that obey him." (Heb. 5:9) "And this is the
promise which he hath promised us, even eternal life."
1 John 2:25
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal
life [now by faith and hope, and by and by actually, 'when he
who is our life shall appear'], and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son
of God hath not life." 1 John 5:11,12
This everlasting life, made possible to Adam and all his race
by our Creator through our Redeemer, but intended for, and promised
to, only the faithful and obedient, and which at present is
given to these only as a hope, will be actually given to the
faithful in the "resurrection."
It will be noticed that the explicit promises of God's Word
differ widely from the worldly philosophies on this subject.
They claim that man must have a future everlasting life because
he hopes for it, or in most cases fears it. But hopes and fears
are not reasonable grounds for belief on any subject. Neither
is there basis for the claim that there is something in man
which must live on and on forever--no such part of the human
organism is known, or can be proved or located.
But the Scriptural view of the subject is open to no such objections:
it is thoroughly reasonable to consider our existence, soul,
being, as therein presented--as a "gift of God," and
not an inalienable possession of our own. Furthermore, it avoids
a great and serious difficulty to which the idea of the heathen
philosophies is open; for when the heathen philosopher states
that man cannot perish, that he must live forever, that eternal
life is not a gift of God, as the Bible declares, but a natural
quality possessed by every man, he claims too much. Such a philosophy
not only gives everlasting existence to those who would use
it well and to whom it would be a blessing, but to others also
who would not use it well and to whom it would be a curse. The
Scriptural teaching, on the contrary, as we have already shown,
declares that this great and inestimably precious gift (Life-Everlasting)
will be bestowed upon those only who believe and obey the Redeemer
and Life-giver. Others, to whom it would be an injury, not only
do not possess it now, but can never get it. "The wages
of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through
Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23) The wicked (all who,
after coming to a clear knowledge of the truth, still wilfully
disobey it) shall be cut off from among God's people in the
Second Death. They "shall be as though they had not been."
"They shall utterly perish." "Everlasting destruction"
shall be their doom--a destruction which will last forever,
from which there will be no recovery, no resurrection. They
will suffer the loss of everlasting life, and all of its privileges,
joys and blessings-- the loss of all that the faithful will
gain. Acts 3:23; Psa. 37:9,20; Job 10:19; 2 Thess. 1:9
God's gift of life eternal is precious to all his people, and
a firm grasp of it by the hand of faith is quite essential to
a well-balanced and consistent life. Only those who have thus
"laid hold on eternal life," by an acceptance of Christ
and consecration to his service, are able to properly and profitably
combat the tempests of life now raging.
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