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Life After Death

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Embracing Eternity: Is There Life After Death?

I heard a story about a doctor who visited a young man. The doctor grimly announced, “I’ve examined your reports. There is bad news, and there is worse news.” The young man replied, “Go ahead. Give me the bad news.” The doctor explained, “We’ve looked at your tests and you have 48 hours to live.” Shocked, the young man shouted, “Well, what could be worse than that? What’s the worse news?” The doctor quietly replied, “We’ve been looking for you since yesterday.”

Now, that story is only funny if you’re not the young man! The sobering truth is the death rate in America, the world for that matter, is one hundred percent. Death is the number one killer—it will claim each of us unless the Rapture comes first.

Considering the prevalence of death in our world, you’d think we would have come to terms with it a long time ago, but many of us haven’t. Let’s change that, shall we? Let’s gain some biblical perspective on death, heaven, and the role of angels in the hereafter.

What Is Death?

The word death means “separation.” In the New Testament, it’s the Greek word thanatos. In its simplest sense, physical death is the separation of the spirit and soul from the body. We’ll be more similar to the angels after death because we will have lost the part of us that angels don’t possess—our physical bodies. Once we die, we no longer exist in the physical realm but in the spiritual realm alone. In the words of James 2:26, “The body without the spirit is dead.” Physical death is relatively simple to understand because it is plainly observed.

Spiritual death is not as readily understood. Spiritual death has nothing to do with the physical body and everything to do with the soul. It is the separation of a sinful soul from a holy God. In Romans 6:23, Paul describes it this way: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Clearly, he is not referring to physical death and life. We’d all be dead by now if sin resulted in immediate death, and eternal life is not observable in our decaying world. Paul is referring to spiritual death and spiritual life.

There is another form of death mentioned in the Bible, and I don’t wish it upon anybody. While it is third on our list, the Bible refers to it as the “second death” and describes it in Revelation 20:13-15:

The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

This is a grim picture. So, who are these souls who experience a second death?

The second death is reserved for anyone who does not experience spiritual rebirth through the gift of God described in Romans 6:23. Allow me to explain it mathematically. If you have been born only once, you will have to die twice—a spiritual and a second death. If you have been born twice—physically and spiritually, you will only die once—physically. You may even avoid physical death if the Lord Jesus returns before the end of your earthly life!

We all inherit rebellious inclinations from our earthly parents, so we must experience spiritual rebirth in Christ if we are to avoid spiritual death. The apostle Paul explains:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

If you want to live forever in the presence of God, you must have two birthdays—your physical birthday and your spiritual birthday.

Who Goes to Heaven?

The apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life…. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 3:16, 17:3).

To experience eternal life, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He rose from the dead—conquering death on our behalf. We must confess our sin, repent of it, and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

What About Children?

We all begin this life on even turf. Everybody is entered into the Book of Life at conception. The Bible does not mention a specific age of accountability for children who die. However, children who do not yet understand the Gospel message are covered by the blood of Christ. As Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” God’s goodness and mercy would not allow Him to hold children responsible for a decision they cannot yet make.

When we study the book of Deuteronomy, it describes an unbelieving generation of Israelites being prevented from entering the Promised Land while their children were exempt from that penalty (Deuteronomy 1:39). Other verses refer to young children as “innocents,” indicating God treats their naïve sinful desires differently than the willful sinfulness of mature individuals (Jeremiah 2:34, 19:4).

I also submit to you that God’s compassion extends to physically mature adults who do not have the mental capacity to understand the Gospel for the reasons stated above. God is merciful. He treats unintentional sins differently than the sins of those who have willfully rejected Him.

How Are Angels Involved With Death?

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible makes no reference to an angel of death. When God enacted the final plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn, Scripture is clear that God carried out judgment against the gods of Egypt Himself (Exodus 12:12-13).

In fact, the truth about angels and death is far more comforting than that.

The Bible reveals that angels usher God’s children home to heaven. Jesus shared a parable about a rich man and a poor man in which the poor man was “carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). This passage is not a statement on social justice per se. Rather, it provides assurance—on the authority of Jesus Himself—that all believers, no matter how poor and lowly some may be, have angels as their convoys at death, ushering them into the presence of the King.

I believe angels escort us home for two reasons—protection and lovingkindness.

The third heaven, where Jesus lives, is beyond an incredible stretch of atmosphere from the earth. If the believer’s spirit is to return to God, then it must pass through this great expanse. Scripture warns us that Satan is the enemy of the soul, and he is “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Ephesians 6:12 says we wrestle against “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This is the theological explanation of why angels take us to heaven: God provides angels to protect His children from Satan on their journey home.

The second reason I believe God uses angels to guard our heaven-bound spirits is because it brings pleasure to us and to His angels.

As early as the Garden of Eden, God proclaimed that it was not good for man, who was created in His image, to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Relationships are part of humanity’s basic design, and we can expect that to continue after death. Angels accompany God’s children to heaven to provide fellowship.

While people certainly benefit from angelic protection and fellowship on their way to heaven, the act of carrying God’s children home is a blessing to the angels. Just imagine…as angels usher us home, they will witness our first glimpse of heaven’s radiant beauty! The Bible tells us that angels watch us (1 Corinthians 4:9, 11:10; 1 Timothy 5:21) and rejoice over our salvation (Luke 15:10). Surely, they must also rejoice at the culmination of our redemption.

What Can We Learn From Angels As We Await Heaven?

Almighty God has shared some details about heaven, so we are wise to study it. However, Jesus Christ clearly taught that we are to keep busy with His work until He returns (Luke 19:11-27). We must not become so consumed with thoughts of heaven that we overlook the work He has for us here. As creation awaits Christ’s glorious Second Coming, the angels are actively engaged in three activities that we, too, are called to undertake. Let’s take a closer look at these three tasks.

Angels show us how to honor the Lord in our worship.
  • They worship attentively (Matthew 18:10, 22:30, 24:36). In Revelation 5:8, we see the angels holding “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” How are you engaging in worship each day? What precious prayers from you have gone up today to help fill those bowls as they rest in the holy hands of angels?

  • They worship obediently. Angels understand their purpose: their job is to bring glory to God (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:11-12). What is interfering with your obedient worship? Is there idolatry in your heart that needs to be confessed? Have you prayed for His will to be done in your life, just as it’s already done by the angels in heaven?

  • They worship reverently (Psalm 89:7; Proverbs 9:10). If these holy creatures cry out in praise of God’s holiness day and night, how much should you? What is the attitude of your worship? How are you demonstrating reverence for God’s holiness?

  • They worship freely. Scripture is filled with descriptions of the angels’ jubilant, unrestrained worship, and it provides similar instructions for us (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 7:12, 11:16-17; Psalm 100; John 3:8). Would others describe your worship as joyful? How does your worship demonstrate thankfulness for God’s goodness?
Angels show us how to honor the Lord in our work.
  • They embody their mission. There are different types of angels suited to different purposes, and angels have been known to take on different forms depending on their assignment. How are you using your God-given talents to honor Him? How are you stretching yourself to fulfill His purposes?

  • They follow God’s instructions precisely. Angels receive different instructions for different people in different circumstances, and they respond accordingly. What decisions are facing you today? What would obedience look like in that situation?

  • They work diligently. When God gives them an assignment, angels are faithful to complete it (Daniel 10:12-14; Revelation 22:6). How have you asked God to show you His specific will for your life today? Have you been faithful to follow through on it?
Angels show us how to honor the Lord in our witness.
  • They protect God’s people. According to Psalm 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” Matthew 18:10 describes angels who look out for God’s people, and it challenges us to treat each other, particularly “little ones,” well. How are you treating God’s people? Is there someone who needs your loving protection? How are you honoring your family commitments?

  • They communicate God’s messages. Along with other important messages, angels have proclaimed Mary’s pregnancy, Christ’s birth, and His Resurrection (Matthew 1:20-21, 28:5-7; Mark 2:10-12). Now, our risen Lord has given us a message to share with the world:
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20).

Have you prayed today for God’s kingdom to come? Have you prayed for His kingdom to be born in the lives of your family and friends and neighbors whom you love, but who are not yet believers? How are you sharing the Good News with others? Who in your life needs to hear God’s truth? Have you accepted Jesus’ lordship in your own life?

If you or a loved one would like more information on becoming a Christian, I’d like to send you a complimentary resource that will guide you through the foundations of the Christian faith. Request Your Greatest Turning Point now.

above originally from: Embracing Eternity: Is There Life After Death?

What Happens Beyond the Grave?
By: Greg Laurie

Have you ever wondered what happens after we die? What kind of bodies do we have in heaven? Will we know each other in heaven? Will we remember anything about earth? What's the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ? Are people in heaven watching us on earth? Who will be in heaven and who will not? Pastor Greg answers these questions and more in this message.

Staff Member
Thank you for letting me know. I fixed it. It was an issue specifically in Light Mode theme.
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible makes no reference to an angel of death. When God enacted the final plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn, Scripture is clear that God carried out judgment against the gods of Egypt Himself (Exodus 12:12-13).
Hi Brother Chad, and thank you for your labors in Christ on this site! Interesting research, but whoever conducted it should know about the mention of the "destroyer" in Ex 12:23, who appears to be a different spirit than the Lord Himself: "and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you; the destroying angel, as the Targum of Jonathan; for he seems to be distinct from the Lord, who is said to pass through and pass over, being an attendant and minister of His, to execute vengeance upon the Egyptians."
(more . . . Exodus 12 Bible Commentary - John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible)

God's blessing to your Family!

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