Life Goes On 4/26/98

Ephesians 3:14-16
Page 1710 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ said, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

To validate the statement that there is life for us after death He gave us proof by going out and being resurrected. It was a rare occasion that morning when the old door of death swung on reverse hinges and He walked back into life through the portal of the grave.

Occasionally at the time of death of one not closely associated with a person it is heard to be said, “Life goes on.” That statement can be made flippantly and sound callous. However, it is true. Before anyone gets the impression I am passing off grief lightly let’s think about it. Life does go on for the believer.

Our text refers to “the whole family in heaven and earth.” Our brothers and sisters in Christ constitute our spiritual family. Did you note the fact members of the family are in two different places: “heaven and earth.” When a beloved one in Christ dies they are transferred to a heavenly home where life for them goes on. WOW, is that a fact!

Easter, the acknowledgment of resurrection, is the only holiday celebrated 52 times a year. Every Sunday the Christian community gathers to celebrate the fact life goes on. Think of any of your beloved who died with faith in Christ. That one is today more alive than any one of us. For that one life goes on in heaven as ours goes on here on earth. Rejoice!

During World War II when persons in England were notified of the death of a loved one the note started: “Your loved one has been posted to a higher command.”

Thank the Lord the resurrection encourages hope in eternity.

Heaven is a real place awaiting those with faith in Christ. It has inspired art, music, novels and even humor. In that vein consider the golf game being played by Moses and Jesus. Moses hits an approach shot that clears a water hazard and lands near the green. Jesus takes out a six iron for his shot. Moses says, “Jesus, that isn’t enough club to clear the water. You are sure to land in the water.”

Jesus replies, “If Jack Nicklaus were playing this hole he would use a six iron and I am going to use a six iron.” Again Moses assures Him the club won’t clear the water.

Sure enough the ball lands in the water. Moses goes down and parts the water to retrieve the ball for Jesus. Upon returning it to Him once more Jesus chooses a six iron. Again Moses warns Him that isn’t enough club to clear the water and says he isn’t going to retrieve it again.

Again Jesus replies, “If Jack Nicklaus were playing this hole he would use a six iron. If it is good enough for Jack it is good enough for Me.”

Sure enough Jesus’ shot ends in the water again. Jesus goes down and as He is walking across the water to retrieve the ball a couple of new comers to heaven see Him walking on the water and asks, “Who does that fellow think He is, Jesus?”

“No,” says Moses, “that is Jesus. He thinks He is Jack Nicklaus.”

Jesus, having said, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live,” continues His encouraging comment: “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26).

“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” (John 8:51)

A skeptic may well ask why then do Christians die? There were seven Greek words from which Christ could choose one to be translated “see.” The one chosen means to stare at or be preoccupied with. Thus, He is saying when a believer dies that one walks right on by death without being preoccupied with it or fearful of it. They don’t even notice the event because of a greater preoccupation.

Have you ever driven some place and on route come out of a haze to question yourself as to exactly where you are in route? Perhaps, to even wonder if you have passed a certain place. You have been so deep in thought you did not even notice if you had passed it. That is the way it is with Christian death. One minute we are here and the next we are in heaven.

One parent explained it to his child this way. “Do you remember when we would return from visiting your grandparents? Often we would travel at such a time as to get home after your bed time. You would go to sleep in the car soon after leaving grandmothers. When you would wake up the next morning you would be in your own bed.”

In the moment this “earthly tabernacle is destroyed” we enter into what Christ referred to as “My Father’s house.”

Most of us have a little wholesome fear of death. It is a wonderful preservative of life. It keeps us from doing most risky things that would be foolish. One of the blessings of Christian death is that when it comes there is no fear of it. Perhaps most of your life you have been quoting Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for Thou art with me…” There it is “I will fear no evil.” The fear of death is removed in that moment.

With Paul we can taunt death by saying, “Oh, death where is your sting…” When a bee stings a person the bee loses its stinger. On Calvary Satan stung Christ and the sting of death has never been the same.

“They shall not see death.” One reason is there is a preoccupation with Christ. Scripture says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

If an American teenager were translating that Greek text it would read, “The moment you die you are eyeball-to-eyeball with God.” That, rather, than death is our preoccupation in the moment we expire. Life goes on!

In the Roman Arena, Emperor Nero watched as Christians were faced with the cruel mocking death. He was amazed to see many of them bow and look heavenward with a radiant glow on their faces as though seeing the invisible. Nero asked, “What are they looking at? What do they see?” One standing by who was sympathetic with the Christians said, “They see the resurrected Christ.” They never saw death.

In the moment life escapes from the prison of this body we are inducted into “The Society of the Just Perfected.”

In a novel by Henry James there is a character referred to as “eminently incomplete.” That’s us. In this life were are indeed eminently incomplete. Death admits us into “The Society of the Just Perfected.” Life goes on — on a much higher plane.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4: 16 – 18).

Living in a world of “instant everything” we tend to become spiritually nearsighted. This has robbed us of a proper perspective of time and things. Out text contrasts the “moment” with “eternity” and the “visible” with the “invisible.”

Time and eternity has a way of showing us what is temporary and what is permanent; what is valuable and what is useless. Measure the things of your life in this light. Adjust your schedule accordingly. Rearrange your priorities in light of this.

When Horatio Nelson, one of Britain’s greatest leaders, was wounded and lay dying his last words were, “Thank God I have done my duty.” What an incomprehendible joy!

Can you say the same?

A new and exhilarating ride was introduced. It was so revolutionary people were reluctant to ride it. It was called the Ferris Wheel. It is a familiar tame ride by today’s standards. However, initially its novelty caused people to fear the baskets would turn upside down and let them fall out. Finally, one day a gracious lady got on and rode it to the amazed satisfaction of the large crowd of on lookers. Her name was Mrs. Ferris. After she rode it others were reassured and had no reluctance to ride.

When Jesus Christ got on life’s Ferris Wheel and went through the cycle of birth, life, death, and resurrection it took away fear and made life a grand joy ride. Enjoy!

In his book, A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken, whose wife died of cancer, tells of the last day he saw his friend, C.S. Lewis. They had lunch together and talked about death or, as he says, “the wakening after death.” Vanauken suggested that death would be a sort of coming home, and Lewis agreed. When it came time to part, he insisted that they keep in touch and said with a cheerful grin, “We’ll certainly meet here or there.”

The two shook hands and Lewis turned to make his way across the busy street. Then he turned to Vanauken, raised his voice above the traffic, grinned and shouted, “Besides, Christians never say goodby.”

We don’t need to because life goes on and the resurrection of Christ proves it.

Prior to his death the superb British leader Sir Winston Churchill planned his own funeral. The ceremony was conducted in the expansive St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in London. At a striking moment a trumpeter in one end of the vast vaulted assembly hall played taps. The stirring notes of the familiar score echoed through the chamber signaling the final rest of the deceased. Just before the end of the ceremony another trumpeter at the other end of the room played reveille. That rousing sound used to awaken sleeping troops was chosen by Sir Winston as a confident reminder of his belief in the resurrection.

Some grand day the trumpeter of the Lord will sound forth God’s reveille and the dead in Christ shall be caught up to be with Him and we who are alive shall accompany them.

There is a grand resurrection awaiting those who have died with saving faith in Christ. The resurrection of Christ confirms this.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 15:20).

Persons in the Bible era knew what was meant by “the first fruits.” By learning we should be encouraged. As the time of harvest neared farmers expectantly looked for the first grain to ripen. As soon as it did it was immediately harvested. They had a grand celebration. All of the farmers brought the first shocks of grain harvested to the house of God. In procession they waved the grain back and forth over their heads praising the Lord. It was a celebration of gratitude. It was a thanks for the growing season that produced the grain as well as a praise for what was to come.

The resurrected Christ is seen as the first fruit from the grave. That is, His resurrection gives us reason to celebrate life and rejoice over our own forthcoming resurrection.

In light of what you have heard here in these moments listen again more carefully than before to John 3: 16: “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” (John 3: 16). Life goes on!

As Christ is the first fruit of the dead resurrected there are subsequent resurrections coming. Revelation 20: 6 says, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.” This is a reference to the forthcoming resurrection of all believers.

There is another resurrection which follows the first resurrection. It also is spoken of in the Revelation. There are indications there may be as much as a thousand years between the first and second resurrection. The second is of non-believers.

Every person will be in one of the two. In which will you be numbered? Do not leave any room for doubt. Settle the issue today, once and for all.

Regardless of how long or how difficult life’s road you will stand at the end when the resurrected Christ who also met the apostle John who recorded his encounter with the triumphant Lord in Revelation 1: 17, 18: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’”